From Publishers Weekly
The 19-year-old daughter of Thomas Jefferson and a slave woman faces conflicts concerning her lineage; PW praised this "intelligent yet earthy history that lends insight into the complex feelings surrounding race relations." Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 7-12-- This historical novel explores the life of Harriet Hemings, one of Jefferson's household slaves and possibly his daughter. While the character of Harriet is largely fictional, her story is set firmly within an authentic historical context. The plot is revealed through Harriet's diary, a device that occasionally seems forced. A very light-skinned slave, she is favored in the Monticello household where she feels secure and protected. Other less fortunate members of the slave community urge her to make plans to take her freedom when she turns 21, a freedom that Jefferson has promised to all of the children of his supposed mistress, Sally Hemings. It is not until she is almost raped by the drunken husband of Jefferson's granddaughter that Harriet begins to contemplate what life might be like at Monticello after Jefferson dies. Thus, she makes the decision to move to Washington, D. C., and to pass as white. Knowing that this is her best hope for a decent life does not prevent her from feeling guilt over abandoning her race or grief over leaving behind all that she knows and loves. The moral dilemmas Harriet faces are played out against the backdrop of Jefferson's own ambivalence about the institution of slavery. The most telling observation in the novel is that the whites find slavery most repugnant when those enslaved look almost white themselves. Harriet's plight is poignant, and she is a finely drawn, believable character. The racism inherent in the enslavement of Africans is clearly exposed. The evils of slavery appear in a stark light even in the relatively benign environment of Monticello. Exploring the thoughts and feelings of both blacks and whites, this book should provide readers with insights into one of the most significant moral problems in American history. --Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro,
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.