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Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
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Caleb's Crossing

by Geraldine Brooks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,6411753,224 (3.85)209
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: Like Caleb's Crossing, The Widow's War is set in a beautifully described seaside village in colonial Massachusetts. With crisp language with a light archaic feel, both novels evoke the plight of a woman struggling to achieve more than society grants her.… (more)
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» See also 209 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 175 (next | show all)
So interesting and well written - Brooks does it again! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
This book is a slow read but if you stick with it, it is very satisfying from an accomplished writer. It‘s the story of America in the 1600s told by a teen girl, too smart for the times in which she lived, how she managed to thrive, and the American Indians with whom she grew up. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Jul 31, 2018 |
This was a great read from an interesting perspective. The story captures the challenges early settlers of Martha 's Vineyards experienced living in close proximity to the area's Native Americans. The challenges of being a female in this time period are also well done. Worth reading. ( )
  melanieklo | Jul 25, 2018 |
I didn't hate it. Parts of it held my interest. But--I didn't like the ending, and I never believed that Bethia could possibly have existed in the milieu of the novel; her sensibility was simply too modern. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Geraldine Brooks is one of my favorite authors. Her ability to blend history, descriptive language, and develop characters are second to none in my opinion for current authors. All readers find authors that write in a way that is beautiful and connects on a personal and intellectual level and Brooks is one of the authors for me.

This is my third novel by Brooks and while I loved everything I said above, this story was not as strong as the previous two I read. The history and beauty and characters were all done exceptionally well, but the story itself was more of a chronology of events and I never felt that it built toward a climax. We find out what happens with all of the important characters and I have no problems with how the story played out, but if she didn't write so well, I might not have been as interested as I have been with her previous books. Either way, I still recommend it for those who love to read beautiful language. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 26, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 175 (next | show all)
...This is a book for grown-ups written by Geraldine Brooks, who not only respects history, she loves it. So while she sets up a story that's easy to fall into, she doesn't shy away from the realities of those times. And Bethia and Caleb's lives take some unexpected turns. The result is a satisfying but sobering look at the early days of this country. This is a great pick for lovers of historical fiction...
added by Jcambridge | editNPR, Lynn Neary (Jan 1, 2012)
 
“Caleb’s Crossing” could not be more enlightening and involving. Beautifully written from beginning to end, it reconfirms Geraldine Brooks’s reputation as one of our most supple and insightful ­novelists.
 
While no masterpiece, this work nevertheless contributes in good measure to the current and very welcome revitalization of the historical novel.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 15, 2011)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Geraldine Brooksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ehle, JenniferNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Bizuayehu, who also made a crossing
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He is coming on the Lord's Day.
Quotations
So it is, out here on this island, where we dwell with our faces to the sea and our backs to the wilderness. Like Adam's family after the fall, we have all things to do. We must be fettler, baker, apothecary, grave digger. Whatever the task, we must do it, or else do without.
On a day so Godsent, your mind is untroubled, the entire world seems well. You gird for tragedy on a different sort of day—a day of bleak gray sky, blowing mists and bitter, howling winds. You pray to avert ill fate on such a day. This I know.
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Book description
When Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks came to live on Martha's Vineyard in 2006, she ran across a map by the island's native Wampanoag people that marked the birthplace of Caleb, first Native American to graduate of Harvard College--in 1665. Her curiosity piqued, she unearthed and fleshed out his thin history, immersing herself in the records of his tribe, of the white families that settled the island in the 1640s, and 17th-century Harvard. In Caleb's Crossing, Brooks offers a compelling answer to the riddle of how--in an era that considered him an intellectually impaired savage--he left the island to compete with the sons of the Puritanical elite. She relates his story through the impassioned voice of the daughter of the island's Calvinist minister, a brilliant young woman who aches for the education her father wastes on her dull brother. Bethia Mayfield meets Caleb at twelve, and their mutual affinity for nature and knowledge evolves into a clandestine, lifelong bond. Bethia's father soon realizes Caleb's genius for letters and prepares him for study at Harvard, while Bethia travels to Cambridge under much less auspicious circumstances. This window on early academia fascinates, but the book breathes most thrillingly in the island's salt-stung air, and in the end, its questions of the power and cost of knowledge resound most profoundly not in Harvard's halls, but in the fire of a Wampanoag medicine man.
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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. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. There, Bethia finds herself reluctantly indentured as a housekeeper and can closely observe Caleb's crossing of cultures. Like the author's beloved narrator Anna, in Year of Wonders, Bethia proves an emotionally irresistible guide to the wilds of Martha's Vineyard and the intimate spaces of the human heart.… (more)

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