A More Perfect Union

Written by Jodi Daynard
Review by Viviane Crystal

Johnny Watkins and his mother arrive in America from Barbados. While they set their hopes high, there is a constant shadow casting fear on their dreams. For Johnny, although phenomenally intelligent, is a “quadroon,” the son of a mulatto and a white person. He can and does pass for a good-looking white man, but he can never talk about his family in Barbados or talk as he would in his native language. That would normally be no problem, except that Johnny is about to enter the hallowed halls of Harvard University and aims to become a lawyer in the worlds of academia and high society. The challenge is obvious, and how it unfolds, which includes two women whom he loves in different ways, is mesmerizing.

The second part of the plot involves Johnny’s connection to Vice-President and then President John Adams during the “Liberty Crisis” involving Adams, Hamilton, Jefferson, and other, nefarious persons, as the Anti-Sedition Acts and several volatile publications threaten to destroy the “United” States. Johnny becomes a great friend of John Adams and is mentored wisely while unwittingly becoming the target of Peter, a former classmate from Harvard.

The reader is compelled to realize that even the noblest motivations can go sour and have disastrous consequences. Fortunately, Johnny’s path will wind up with his making a more truthful choice in romance and in a prosperous career, assisted by a surprise character. This fascinating period of history is superbly plotted, with engaging characters, the real twists and turns of historical conflicts, and romance depicted in the proper etiquette of the late 1790s. Poems and portions of historical speeches enhance the credibility of this highly recommended historical novel.