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Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
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Caleb's Crossing (edition 2011)

by Geraldine Brooks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3871602,615 (3.84)184
Member:heidip
Title:Caleb's Crossing
Authors:Geraldine Brooks
Info:Fourth Estate (2011), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Books Read in 2012
Rating:*****
Tags:Fiction, Adult

Work details

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

  1. 10
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    The Widow's War by Sally Gunning (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    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 184 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
I felt always at arm's length from this book, which should have been a poignant and emotionally strong story. The historical information is fascinating-- the early days of what is now Martha's Vineyard, the relationship between the English and the Wampanoag, the early history of Cambridge and Harvard. But I felt little connection to the main characters, and felt some of the foundation of the story was rushed, though the later parts of the novel were wonderful. ( )
  jjaylynny | Nov 12, 2016 |
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. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
I enjoyed reading every page of this book. The narrator's voice was pleasant, insightful and humble enough to let the world around her come to life. I felt like I learned much more about 17th century colonial life through her eyes than I ever did in history class, and I highlighted many fantastic passages. The only unfortunate thing about the book is that it ends without a sense of hope. Perhaps this is unavoidable--history cannot be changed after all. But after traveling a wonderful life's journey with the characters, in the end I was just left feeling sad. ( )
  trwm | Oct 6, 2016 |
Another great book by Geraldine Brooks. Can't wait for the next one. ( )
  ericmcherry | Sep 14, 2016 |
I appreciate that the book was meant to showcase the beginnings of Harvard and the injustice to indigenous people. I also appreciate that the author, as a white woman, did not choose to tell the story from Caleb's perspective, and instead used Bethia's experiences to tell Caleb's story. That being said, this meant I stopped caring about Bethia's storyline once it stopped intersecting with Caleb's, as I was completely invested in his story. ( )
  watersgendry | Aug 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 160 (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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Geraldine Brooksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ehle, JenniferNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Bizuayehu, who also made a crossing
First words
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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