Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Thomas Jefferson: inventor, scholar, president, and overall political genius…has a secret. Besides his already grown daughters, he also has four younger children, Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston, who are slaves. When Beverly unearths this ashamed secret, he is both confused and fascinated. He has always thought of Master Jefferson as a hero, not one who whips slaves publicly and works them to their max. The children have biased opinions of course, as they get specific treatment from Jefferson. Yet what must it mean to them, to have the famed father who first wrote about how “All men are created equal” when they themselves had a lifetime of working fields in their futures?
What I Thought of Jefferson’s Sons
I found this novel to be a mind-changing and brave book, full of “I didn’t know that!” and “Really?” moments. Unlike some historical/non-fiction reads, Jefferson’s Sons had the style of way back then writing. Starting when he is at a young age, Beverly develops from a raw and vulnerable child to a mature and aware man at a steady pace. Although I think their may be a little too many side characters, I liked how they all tied into the story and had their own significance. The personalities were clear from the beginning and stayed consistent throughout the book, which must have been hard to write considering personality traits aren’t the kind of thing historians can document. The author definitely handled this well. With all of these good traits about Jefferson’s Sons, you may be curious about how I scored it. Here it is plain and simple: historical fiction is not my favorite genre. It can be boring and repetitive, so with a well deserved four stars, JS actually exceeded my standards. For historical fiction fans or non-fiction readers, go for it! The only negative reviews I found on this book were simply fact lovers who claimed this to be “false” and “lies”, so beside the historical feud, readers agree that Jefferson’s Sons is a great book!
A memorable moment in Jefferson’s Sons is when James returns to Monticello and Madison is ecstatic. I found this a sweet scene that I had been hoping for since James left making it my favorite part of the book.