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Book Review

Alex and Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa de la Cruz has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Alex and Eliza” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

It is 1777. The British have torched the Schuyler mansion, and the once-wealthy family experiences financial strain. Mrs. Schuyler vows to marry off her three beautiful daughters, Angelica, Eliza and Peggy, to men of breeding before word gets out about their fiscal woes. She throws a ball.

Alex Hamilton is a young writer for Gen. George Washington. Although an illegitimate child from an inconsequential bloodline, Alex has proven himself clever and industrious. The night of the Schuylers’ ball, Alex is charged with delivering bad news to Mr. Schuyler: Schuyler is being court-martialed for his actions in a battle.

Alex knows Schuyler is innocent. He also knows this may be his chance to meet Schuyler’s smart, patriotic daughter, Eliza. Alex delivers his bad news, and Eliza and her sisters lash out at him. Schuyler still insists Alex stay for the ball and take lodging in their barn for the night.

Mrs. Schuyler, angry at Eliza for refusing to wear the dress she selected, puts Alex’s name on Eliza’s dance card. To her chagrin, Eliza finds herself charmed by the young man. Later that night, a servant gives Alex back the handkerchief he’d loaned Eliza. Accompanying it is a note saying Eliza will meet him in the barn loft. He anxiously awaits her arrival, but she never comes.

Eliza goes to stay with Aunt Gertrude. Her carriage breaks down, and Alex happens to be there to rescue her. She later learns he had heard she was coming and was watching for her.

On their ride to Morristown, Alex asks her why she never met him in the barn as she’d promised. Eliza is horrified he would think her the kind of girl who would make such offers. They determine someone tricked Alex. Alex is disappointed, as he had been thinking about Eliza often in the years since they met. Eliza is angry at his assumptions.

Eliza’s sisters join her at Gertrude’s to help with the inoculations. Eliza’s anger toward Alex cools when he sets an example for his men by letting her vaccinate him. The sisters tell Eliza their parents are facing greater financial struggles and want the girls to stay with Gertrude for the time being.

Gertrude welcomes them and throws dinner parties to give them opportunities to spend time with their suitors. Angelica intends to marry a Brit who aids the American cause by stealthily procuring weapons and ammunition. She doesn’t love him, but she admires his cause and his financial standing.

Peggy loves a quiet, awkward young man from the wealthiest family in the New World. Angelica verbally attacks Alex at one of the dinner parties. That night, she shows Eliza and Peggy a letter from their mother.

The family’s financial situation is still more dire. Mrs. Schuyler urges Angelica to marry her beau, even if she must elope. She also notes she has spoken with the wealthy family of Henry Livingston, a boy Eliza knew long ago. Mrs. Schuyler has arranged for Eliza and Henry to be wed immediately.

Alex knows Angelica’s criticism about his lack of status is valid. He asks Gen. Washington to give him a legitimate post so he can show himself heroic in battle and win the respect of Eliza’s family. A few days later, Henry arrives in Morristown to become reacquainted with Eliza before marrying her later in the week.

Eliza is torn between her love for Alex and her responsibility to her family. Henry proves to be an egocentric, ill-mannered man prone to sexual indiscretion and innuendo. As Eliza returns to Gertrude’s with him after a walk, they have an awkward meeting with Alex. He is shocked to learn of their impending marriage and announces he will soon be going to war.

Alex leaves town for a few days on business. When he returns, he learns Henry has moved wounded soldiers from their hospital into a brothel so he can use the location for his bachelor party. Alex goes to the party, intending to confront Henry. A drunken soldier erroneously tells Alex Henry has eloped already.

Alex runs into Peggy’s fiancé, Stephen. As they’re talking in the street, they see a disturbance in Gertrude’s living room. Drunk and violent, Henry has broken in and is making forceful sexual advances toward Eliza. Alex stops him, and Stephen keeps Alex from killing Henry.

Alex challenges Henry to a duel for Eliza’s honor. Alex admits his true feelings for Eliza, since he’s never verbally expressed his intentions before. He leaves town, and no one is certain where he’s gone. Meanwhile, Henry’s parents try to cover for his behavior and even threaten to damage the Schuyler reputation if the marriage doesn’t take place.

On the day of the rescheduled wedding, Alex appears in a carriage. He looks weakened. To Eliza’s surprise, her parents exit the carriage, too. She learns Alex made a harrowing trip to her parents’ home and battled British spies on the way. Her parents nursed his wounds as he told them about Henry’s behavior. Alex asks for Eliza’s hand in marriage, and her parents give the couple their blessing.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

None

Authority Roles

George Washington leads honorably and respects Alex’s hard work and abilities. Mrs. Schuyler makes many efforts to keep her daughters from making social and marital faux pas. In the end, she sees Alex’s character and blesses his marriage to Eliza.

Gertrude aids soldiers by administering vaccines. Her example inspires her nieces. She cares about the girls’ welfare and happiness, and she tries to give them opportunities to spend time with men they like. Eliza learns her father welcomed the court-martial because he wanted to clear his good name. Alex suggests Mr. Schuyler had great foresight as a leader in battle.

Profanity/Violence

The Lord’s name is used in vain several times, as are the words d--n, b--tard and h---. When Alex is ambushed by British spies, he stabs one and shoots the other two. He is wounded in the bloody skirmish.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Women are urged to flaunt their cleavage to attract suitors. Henry suggests that if Eliza ever needs to find him after they’re married, she should check at a nearby brothel. He has sick and injured soldiers moved from their makeshift hospital to the brothel so he can use the hospital barn for his bachelor party. Scantily clad women dance and tease men at the party. Henry comes to the house where Eliza is staying the night before the wedding and tries to forcibly have his way with her.

Eliza and Alex kiss a few times, and she disrobes for him on their honeymoon night. A number of other subtle sexual innuendos appear within the text.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Soldiers drink and get drunk, and Gertrude sometimes drinks in excess.

Smoking: A number of men smoke.

Slavery: Alex witnesses the atrocities of slavery as a young man. He grows up in St. Croix, the port city at which slave ships first arrive from Africa. He sees slaves with atrophied bodies and haunted eyes who have just endured months on smelly, rat- and lice-infested ships. He also sees dead bodies being thrown into the harbor.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

12 and up

Author

Melissa de la Cruz

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC

Released

On Video

Year Published

2017

Awards

Unknown

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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