Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Publisher: The Penguin Group
Thomas Jefferson had several children, Beverly, Harriet, and Easton, with a slave, Sally Hemings. Because of their unique circumstances, these children have different futures, not only from their slave friends, but also from each other. Beverly becomes passionate about secretly learning to read, Easton takes after his father as a natural violinist, and Harriet stealthily observes the fancy women of Monticello so she’ll know how to act “white” when she comes of age and leaves her father's estate. It is a widely known secret that at the age of twenty-one, the children will be freed, become a part of white society, and leave Monticello forever. This book explores how each child comes to terms with their fate.
Bradley brings history to life as she develops a story involving the children of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. The reader connects with the individuals in the book because of the author's realistic voice. While the dialogue is fictional, the authenticity of the situations evokes both laughter and the tender feelings of the heart. This book allows the reader to learn more about everyday life and the inherent racial struggles in the time of America's founding fathers.