I live in the DC Metro Area, and we’ve been swept up in Hamilton-mania since early June when the show FINALLY came to the Kennedy Center (and can I just say that it’s taken a ridiculously long time for this show to come here??). I was lucky enough to score tickets to take my son in August, but during what seems to be an exceedingly long wait, I’ve taken a jaunt through the fantastic world of Young Adult books related to Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, and (my favorites) the Schuyler Sisters.
Here are some great YA novels I recommend for any Hamilton fan:
7 YA Novels for Hamilton Fans
Hamilton and Peggy! By L. M. Elliot — While much of Peggy Schuyler’s correspondence is lost to us, L. M. Elliott pieces together Hamilton’s relationship with his younger sister-in-law through mentions in his actual correspondence with his wife (after all, he really did write like he was running out of time and his writings are copious). Hamilton and Peggy were good friends, and the youngest of the three Schuyler sisters takes front and center in a novel that is that rare combination of careful historical scholarship and exquisite storytelling. Peggy is a fascinating character, and she is brought to life in this story in a manner that allows her to outshine her older sisters and be more than “And Peggy.”
George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War by Thomas B. Allen — Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the success of the Revolution really depended on the vast network of double agents and their shadowy operations that depended on secrets, lies, and cyphers. This book is fantastic for anyone interested in the history of espionage that brought the then young nation of the United States of America together, examining the various way the Americans got information to each other (sometimes invisible ink, and once even a clothesline).
Alex & Eliza and Love & War by Melissa de la Cruz — These two novels examine the love story between Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler, telling the tale of how their romance developed and how their marriage survived the Revolution. It tackles the very real struggles the young couple had: Alex’s illegitimacy and lack of money during their courtship, and then their separation during the war and later, Eliza’s feelings of neglect and helplessness as Alex’s career took off and his attention was pulled elsewhere.
America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray—While Thomas Jefferson is frequently painted as one of the villains in Hamilton’s history, he was a fascinating man and this novel examines a side of him not portrayed in the play—the tender, devoted father, beloved by his daughter Martha Patsy Jefferson. She brings out the softer side of the intellectual giant—and she witnesses his grief at the death of his wife and the private exasperation and despair he experiences when those in his life let him down. Well-researched and full of historically accurate storylines, this book is a great study on the family life of Thomas Jefferson. It also grapples with the question of slavery and the situation of Sally Hemmings and does not shy away from some of the more unsavory aspects of Jefferson’s character.
Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley—This novel examines the lives Jefferson’s “invisible” children with Sally Hemmings. Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Easton understand that they must keep their father’s identity a secret, and are not unaware that their living conditions and work assignments are better than those of other slaves. They also know they have a different future awaiting them: when they turn twenty-one, Jefferson has promised to free them. But will they be able to blend in with white society? Will they have to turn their backs on their home life forever? Are all men truly created equal, as their father so famously wrote?
Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider by Jean Fritz—For those looking for an in-depth biography of the ten dollar founding father without a father, Jean Fritz examines Hamilton’s brilliance and ambition, telling his story from his childhood on the British West Indies to his journey for an education in New York and his subsequent involvement in the Revolution all the way through to his infamous duel with Aaron Burr. Hamilton was one of our Constitution’s staunchest defenders, and he loved his adopted country fiercely, something that really comes through in Fritz’s rendering of the man.