By Peter B. Boody

Bartleby, Scrivener & Co., 323 pages, $16.99

-The Curious Instance of Thomas Jefferson-

How much would you pay to have dinner with any American president? For Jack Arrowsmith, it cost around $1,400 for one dinner with Thomas Jefferson. And that was just the start of the journey between these two men. This is more than a dinner date, as Thomas Jefferson is back in the flesh and is ready to experience all that this century has to offer. Arrowsmith, a retired history teacher, finds himself in the middle of an odd love story between his friend Rachel and Mr. Thomas Jefferson. The ghost of Jefferson becomes the catalysis for this story, as Jefferson’s reemergence forces Jack to face his own demons. He lost both his son and wife within a year and never fully accepted their passing. The book is a tale of two men–one from our time and another from the eighteenth century–coping with loss and redemption.

The best part of this book is the characters. Jack and Rachel are full-bodied and felt like real people. Jefferson is the star of the book, as he is both pronounced and entertaining. While it is Jack’s exploration of growth that is the center plot, the book really gets its motivation from Jefferson’s reaction to modern life. Imagine this slave owner’s response after discovering that the 44th president is African American! The book has a certain quirkiness to it that makes it a fast read. The pacing of the story is also a well done balance of humor and excitement. The book feels like a journal of a close friend, which made each discovery more personal and unforgettable. Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me is a fun, emotional exploration of human interactions that everyone will find to be captivating. This is a story that will touch your heart and make you think, regardless of what century you call home.

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