Caleb's Crossing: A Novel

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9780670021048: Caleb's Crossing: A Novel

Once again, Geraldine Brooks 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, 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 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 Brooks'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. Evocative and utterly absorbing, Caleb's Crossing further establishes Brooks's place as one of our most acclaimed novelists.

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Review:

Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2011: 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. -- Mari Malcolm

About the Author:

Geraldine Brooks is the author of four novels, the Pulitzer Prize–winning  Marchand the international bestsellers  Caleb’s CrossingPeople of the Book, and  Year of Wonders. She has also written the acclaimed nonfiction works  Nine Parts of Desire and  Foreign Correspondence. Her most recent novel,  Caleb’s Crossing, was the winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction and the  Christianity TodayBook Award, and was a finalist for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction. Born and raised in Australia, she lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, the author Tony Horwitz.

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Book Description Viking. 1 Cloth(s), 2011. hard. Book Condition: New. Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in the 1660s amid a small band of English Puritans on Martha's Vineyard, in this novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March. She meets Caleb, the young son of a local chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond as Bethia's minister father, determined to convert the Wampanoag, sends Caleb to become the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. Inspired by a true story and narrated by the irresistible Bethia, Geraldine Brooks's tale of passion and belief captures the turmoil of two brave, openhearted spirits who risk everything in a search for knowledge at a time of superstition and ignorance."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."—NYTBR 306. Bookseller Inventory # 64794

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