Molly 's Reviews > Jefferson's Sons

Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
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Oct 30, 11

bookshelves: historical, realistic, family, slavery-and-race

I always knew about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. But I never thought of the children they had together, and what it was like to live at Monticello, to have Thomas Jefferson as a father -- and to be his slave. To know that this man wrote the Declaration of Independence, a document which proclaims that "all men are created equal," and to know at the same time that this man owns you and your mother and your siblings and more than 100 other people.

In 'Jefferson's Sons,'Bradley tells this story from the viewpoints of two of Hemmings and Jefferson's sons and one other boy who was close to the family. Though I found parts of the novel slow and didactic, those complaints were ultimately overshadowed by the way this story pushed me to think about an aspect of U.S. history I had never thought about before. It was a powerful, harrowing, moving reading experience. I can honestly say that it has affected forever how I think about Thomas Jefferson -- not in an entirely negative way, but certainly in a much more complicated one.

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Yolanda Fletcher I am in the midst of the same book - it is a fascinating story, one that I became obsessed with reading "The Hemmingses of Monticello" a few years ago. Brubaker uses her characters to paint a believable portrait of what life might have been like for Jefferson's "other" family, a story that middle schoolers can surely empathize with and will hopefully stimulate curiosity about the the complexity and consequences of slavery in the United States (not to mention the ironies of Jefferson's political and philosophical leanings).

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