Jefferson's Sons

Kenley Morriss, Quarter 2, Part 2, Period 6/7

Jefferson's Sons

Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Published by Scholastic

ISBN: 978-0-545-55540-1

Genre: Historical Fiction


Jefferson's Sons was extremely intriguing and left me with more questions than I entered the reading with. The author, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, starts the story with the oldest of Thomas Jefferson's sons, Beverly, then switches to his son Maddy's, who has the darkest pigment, and last falls into Peter's story. Each protagonist has their own antagonist. The retelling of the story begins with Beverly who is struggling with the fact that slavery is evil being that his father is his own master, so he doesn't experience the whole of slavery. Bradly then switches over into Maddy's story. Maddy's main insecurity is that he may be too dark to be able to pass as a white man when Jefferson sets him free on his twenty first birthday. Last, the story falls into Peter's hands. Peter is used to demonstrate what it'd be like for other slaves growing up with Jefferson's sons.

Overall, my opinion on Bradley's writing is neutral. Bradley didn't exactly make the flow of the book as fluid as it should've been. The first time the story passed from Beverly's hands into Maddy's, I wasn't sure what had happened because it never directly stated who it was switching to, it was left to the reader to assume, so I ended up rereading most of the book. Along with that, I don't think the author did a fair job for the actual characters' narratives. I wasn't enticed by their stories or sitting at the end of my seat, and, quite frankly, if I hadn't have been interested in Thomas Jefferson, I wouldn't have finished the book. Along with that, Bradley's dialogue choice for her slave characters didn't evince the same type of content as other historical fiction books in the same time period often do. While those aspects could have been done better, she did an exceptional job creating a storyline based on the limited facts that are on the internet or known about Sally Hemings and her family.

Professional Reviews:

Good Reads


Further Explorations

Further Explorations:

Background article on Thomas Jefferson's mistress, Sally Hemings

The website on Thomas Jefferson's current Monticello and other fun facts about his life.

The Smithsonian's article captures the way our third president felt about white men having slaves.

In the book, the content hit on Jefferson's debt. I found a website that has articles about how much money he owed.

Thomas Jefferson thought that having slaves was immoral, and he almost put it in the Declaration of Independence, but this website shows why he didn't.

In Jefferson's Sons, two of his sons were sent to Poplar Forest for work in the summer of 1819.

Read Alikes

Inside Out and Back Again, by Thannhha Lai, is similar to Jefferson's Sons in the sense that the main character, Ha, escaped Vietnam to go to Birmington, Alabama, the same way the boys escape slavery by going to the North. There, along with her family, she has to rebuild her life, much like Jefferson's children. Even though this book takes place over a hundred years after Jefferson's Sons, she and her brothers also face discrimination and intimidation much like the main characters, Maddy and Beverly.

Beloved, by Toni Morrison, is much like Jefferson's Sons because the main character, Sethe, is an escaped slave who will never, mentally be free from slavery. The memories still haunt her of her former residence, in what is referred to as "Sweet Home," the place she loved, but where hideous happenings occurred. In similarity to Jefferson's Sons, she has to rebuild her life in the northwest.

Hang a Thousand Trees With Ribbons, by Ann Rinaldi, has a similar story line as Jefferson's Sons. The main character, Phillis Wheatley, has the reverse occurrence from Maddy and Beverly; she is a free black women who gets kidnapped and brought back down to the South. Much like Beverly and Maddy, she has to rebuild her life without her family and friends to support her, while also being tied into slavery.

Works Cited


"Beloved." Beloved. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

"Beloved." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

"Beloved Paperback – Unabridged, June 8, 2004." Beloved: Toni Morrison: 9781400033416: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

"Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatley." Amazon Books. N.p., 1 Mar. 2005. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

"Inside+out+and+back+again+summary - Google Search." Inside+out+and+back+again+summary - Google Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

"Jefferson's Sons." Google Books. N.p., 5 Sept. 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

"Robot Check." Robot Check. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2015.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Inside Out & Back Again Summary." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.