Caleb's Crossing

Caleb's Crossing

Book - 2011
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Once again, the author takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, she has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. The narrator of the story is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman, against whose magic he must test his own beliefs.
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2011
ISBN: 9780670021048
Branch Call Number: F BROOK-G
Characteristics: ix, 306 p. : map ; 24 cm


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Jul 21, 2019

My third Brooks book, after Year of Wonders and People of the Book. I didn't like this quite as well as the other two, but I still think she's a wonderful writer. Sometimes I would just stop and reread a sentence; at times her structure and word choice and imagery were simply perfection, especially when writing her narrator's views/feelings about the natural world. This was the story of Caleb, a native American in colonial America circa 1660. He is the first native American to graduate from Harvard, a miraculous achievement considering the time and the obstacles. (While this is historical fiction, Caleb's story is true.) The novel is told from the point of view of Bethia, the daughter of the minister of the settlement nearest Caleb and his tribe. Bethia and Caleb secretly befriend each other when they're children and this book is the imagined memoir of Bethia, as she tells about her life and Caleb's and their relathionship over the years. Interesting, beautifully written, but it loses a lot of steam by the end - the last quarter of the book being told from a character's deathbed and the action all happening "off-screen" did a disservice to all that came before it.

May 13, 2019

Another gem by Geraldine Brooks! This historical fiction novel is about, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard in 1665. The author tells the story in such a way that she jumps ahead in one chapter then goes back and fills in all the missing parts in the following chapters. It can be confusing at first but it is a unique way of telling the story. This is definitely a book I would like to purchase and I will be reading it again. I loved the use of Puritan and archaic terms- you might want to keep a dictionary handy!

May 12, 2019

I enjoyed this read, a plausable snap shot of characters life, thoughts aspirations, and dreams, within the limitations of the time-frame Bethia lived.
It had all the ingredients of a good story, it described the emotions of the characters well, described the time, place and events, private and political well.
It did seem to rush midlife and endlife, it was sumerized, which was a let down ,a happy ending was not to be for the indians, but at that time, christianity was on a conquest to convert,according to history.
Bethia of course returns home to live out her days which she had longed for while away, according to the story.

Thank you for the opportunity, to read a book, I would not have picked myself.

Dec 28, 2018

This was a terribly disappointing book. While I enjoyed the peek into life in the colonies in the 1660's, it seems the author could not decide to tell Bethia's story or Caleb's. The plot details Bethia's life in detail from age 12 to 20 or so and then skips forty years in the future with little detail about her life her marriage on.

LoganLib_JennyI Aug 30, 2018

Pulitzer Prize winning Australian-American author, Geraldine Brooks tells the story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University in the 17th century. Brooks takes a small piece of history and with research and imagination weaves this fantastic tale set in the Puritan settlements of colonial Cambridge.
I loved this book as it blended some of my favourite themes - education, philanthropy, religion, kindness, cross-cultural conflict, gender roles, coping with loss - and was based on a sliver of historical fact.

May 27, 2018

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book but I found it an enjoyable read and would recommend it to others.

ArapahoeAnnaL Feb 14, 2018

The first Native American to graduate from Harvard - in 1665. Friendship amid two very different cultures; compellingly drawn picture of Martha's Vineyard in the early Colonial period.

Dennis Robert Rue
Feb 08, 2016

Definitely a skilled writer with imagination coupled with good research who knows how to make an interesting storyline punctuated with enough fact, drama and romance to tow the reader along.
Will definitely try her other novels.

Feb 03, 2016

Geraldine Brooks has to be one of the finest writers of our time. Her writing fully immerses her readers into worlds set in centuries past, and she manages to do so in a form that is truthful to the time and place of the book's setting. She gives us a glimpse into the lives of characters who are true to their time (and not modernized versions). Brooks' novels often explore the religious beliefs of the day, and often from the perspective of women.

"Caleb's Crossing" is based around the story of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, of the Wampanoag tribe--the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University. True to Brooks' storytelling style, though, the book follows a young woman, in this case, the fictional Bethia, a young Puritan girl who befriends Caleb as a child and who finds her life intertwined with his after her minister father decides to help educate Caleb so he can go to the Indian School at Harvard. Bethia is a natural learner, but is a female, and therefore, although she takes in as much knowledge as she can, she knows her life is restricted to that of serving as a wife and mother and running a household.

I very much enjoyed following Bethia on her journey from Martha's Vineyard, to Cambridge, and beyond. Every time I picked up the book, I felt drawn into her world (and so grateful for the freedoms I have that she was denied!)

With that said, the book was not the fastest read. And I can't say I felt as compelled to pick it up as often as I would like a book to do for me. But all-in-all, I enjoyed it, and came away with a bit more knowledge of my country's history.

PimaLib_MaryG Dec 07, 2015

Author Geraldine Brooks is an amazing writer of historical fiction. In this novel she creates a fictional friend of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard, to tell a story of what it may have been like in the early days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Bethia Mayfield educates herself in two by eavesdropping on her brother's lessons with her missionary father and through secret meetings with her friend Cheeshahteaumuck, the son of a Wampanoag leader. I had to stay up all night to finish reading this.

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