Somehow, Ms. Bradley manages to create a novel that personalizes an uncomfortable topic -slavery- and addresses the particular complications and controversies inherent in Thomas Jefferson's relationship with slavery, specifically with Sally Hemings and her children. I appreciated being able to view slavery, plantation life and President Jefferson through the eyes of three of his young slaves. None of the viewpoints are simple, all of their feelings are complicated. Overall, I believe this novel provides an excellent lens into life in Monticello and the life of our third President. It would be a great book to read with your children and then start a discussion about this painful part of American history and how people can simultaneously act in honorable and dishonorable ways.
The untold story of Thomas Jefferson's slave children
Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston are Thomas Jefferson's children by one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, and while they do get special treatment - better work, better shoes, even violin lessons - they are still slaves, and are never to mention who their father is. The lighter-skinned children have been promised a chance to escape into white society, but what does this mean for the children who look more like their mother? As each child grows up, their questions about slavery and freedom become tougher, calling into question the real meaning of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Told in three parts from the points of view of three of Jefferson's slaves - Beverly, Madison, and a third boy close to the Hemings family - these engaging and poignant voices shed light on what life was like as one of Jefferson's invisible offspring.
About the Author
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley lives on a forty-two-acre farm in Bristol, Tennessee.
Praise for Jefferson's Sons…
* “A big, serious work of historical investigation and imagination; the tale has never before been told this well.”
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