Caleb’s Crossing (2011) by Geraldine Brooks
My rating: 5 out of 5
I picked this up on a whim over the Thanksgiving holiday and could not put it down. I was transported to Martha’s Vineyard in 1655, the island home of a young man who became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. Caleb’s story (rooted in fact) is narrated from the point of view of Bethia, a Puritan minister’s daughter. Though of quick mind and ability, as a girl, Bethia is prevented from attaining the education she so desperately craves. Instead, she must stand by as her father tutors Caleb and her brother. When the boys are sent to a private school in Boston, the final step in their preparation for Harvard, Bethia finds herself indentured to the school as a means to pay for their room and board.
Geraldine Brooks has crafted a wonderful story, rich with beautiful prose, a vivid setting, and a captivating narrator. The lives she imagines for Bethia and Caleb make for a rewarding tale about the triumphs and misfortunes of following your destiny. Anyone who enjoys a good island tale, like me, should add this to their reading list. (I would similarly recommend San Miguel by T.C. Boyle.)
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