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In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. The narrator of Caleb's Crossing 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 12, 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 Brooks' 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. Evocative and utterly absorbing, Caleb's Crossing further establishes Brooks's place as one of our most acclaimed novelists.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mary Sue on 05-31-11
Another good entry into fiction!
I find these historical analyses (through fiction) of our complicated history fascinating and helpful even 400 years later. An honest story, of course with an improbable "21st-century" heroine but I'll accept that as long as the details of her conceivable 17th-century life and sensibilities can somewhat match her 21st-century intuition.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
By Jayne Kraemer on 11-30-11
Great Story but Unfortunate Narration
This was a fascinating and engaging novel. I loved it. However, the narrator's pronunciation was so stilted and unnatural that it was very distracting to the story. It was as if she felt that because the main character was from the 1700's she needed to use these awkward pronunciations -- overemphasizing her t's and pronouncing the lettter A instead of a. For example, I laid A book on the table. Not sure what was in the narrator's mind, but it came across as overdone and self-indulgent.
15 of 17 people found this review helpful