Title: Caleb’s Crossing
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Synopsis: All Bethia has ever sought is an education, but as the daughter of a preacher in 1600s Martha’s Vineyard she has been shut out from that option. While her brother attends to his lessons, she slips out to explore the landscapes of the community. She soon meets Caleb, a young native Wampanoag. They soon become fast friends, learning about the world of the other and speaking the other’s languages. As they grow, their friendship stays secret, until Caleb joins the colonists’ settlement in pursuit of an education as her father’s “project”student. Soon after, Caleb joins students at Cambridge with her brother and Bethia finds herself as an indentured servant where she can observe Caleb’s journey into the academic world.
Quote: “I held it out and Caleb took it. This was the first book he had held in his hands. He made me smile, opening it upside down and back to front, but he touched the pages with the utmost care, as if gentling some fragile-boned wild thing. The godliest among us did not touch the Bible with such reverence as he showed to that small book.”
My Review: Ever since I read Brooks’ Year of Wonders my sophomore year of college, I’ve been a big fan of hers. She has a talent for taking the cultural framework of history and bringing it to life through the eyes of the marginalized. In this case, she chose a woman who wanted an education more than anything, but instead had to watch as her brother and other young men were given the opportunity while she was made to take on an indenture. While the book lagged at times, Brooks has a beautiful way with words and I would recommend Caleb’s Crossing or any of her other books to anyone who loves historical fiction or has a love of education.