Caleb’s Crossing – Geraldine Brooks

Title: Caleb’s Crossing

Author: Geraldine Brooks

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Bethia Mayfield is a bright daughter of the town’s Puritan minister. Her grandfather settled the town on what’s to become Martha’s Vineyard among the local Native Americans. While Bethia is gathering clams, she meets Native American, Cheeshahteamauk (English name Caleb). Caleb is the chief’s son and nephew to the shaman. The two become close friends, meeting in the wilderness and teaching each other about their worlds. Bethia’s father takes Caleb in after most of his tribe is taken by sickness. Caleb proves himself a quick learner. With her father and grandfather’s help, Caleb goes to Harvard along with Bethia’s brother, Makepeace, and another Native American, Joel. Both Caleb and Joel excel in their studies and become the first Native Americans to graduate from Harvard.

Rating: 3.4 – a good story of coming of age and the bridging of worlds

Opinion: This was a good story. I thought it would more on Caleb than it did but it still told his story wonderfully. I enjoyed learning about how Native Americans and English Puritans could live together. Albeit not everyone got along, but for the most part they were civil. It made me happy to know that Bethia’s father encouraged his congregation to foster good relations with the Native Americans and consider them neighbors. It was also nice to see another side of Puritan life. The author makes it well known that it was not always so strict and proper, but there was kindness and encouragement in there, too. Yes women were still very limited in what they could and could not do, but they could still make some choices. This is a good story of perseverance, coming of age, and the bridging of cultures. If you’re looking for a good historical fiction, then I highly recommend this book.

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