Kate Hastings's Reviews > Jefferson's Sons

Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
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's review
Nov 13, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: jfic-middle-grades-4-6, middle-school, historicalfictionya, historicalfictionj
Read from November 13 to 20, 2011

Grades 5-8. RL 600. Thomas Jefferson had two families. One with his wife Martha, with whom he had two children that survived to adulthood and gave him many grandchildren. After his wife died, he took his oldest daughter to France, where he stayed a few years. When he sent for his younger daughters, one of his slaves also traveled to France as the girls' attendant. And he fell in love with her. Sally Hemmings. They returned to the States where their relationship was secret, and they had many children. Some of whom were rumored to look like their father. But he would never be able to claim them publically (or really even privately).

The author really made me think about what it might have been like having a father everyone knew but couldn't/wouldn't acknowledge-- and how hard would it be growing up seeing how he interacted with his "real" family. It also made me pause to think about Jefferson and how he wrote the Declaration of Independence and is remembered for being a champion of freedom... and yet he owned slaves. And I think I've lived in a protective little bubble of "he must have been a 'good' slave owner." But really, there isn't such a thing at all. It was all cruel-- with degrees of cruelty. Our founding fathers weren't perfect. People rarely are, and yet we do romanticize them.
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11/18/2011 page 225

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