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Caleb's Crossing: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Geraldine Brooks
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (635 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $8.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

A New York Times bestselling tale of passion and belief, magic and adventure from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author

Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha's vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest between old ways and new, eventually becoming the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. Inspired by a true story and narrated by the irresistible Bethia, Caleb’s Crossing brilliantly captures the triumphs and turmoil of two brave, openhearted spirits who risk everything in a search for knowledge at a time of superstition and ignorance.




Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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

Review

Praise for 'People of the Book' : 'Brooks expertly guides us to the conclusion that the world is made up of only two types of people: those who would destroy books and those who would give their lives to save them. This illuminating novel, like its predecessor, is well worthy of both Pulitzer and prime-time approbation.' Independent on Sunday 'These stories have a raw and visceral power. The book is full of historical detail.' Naomi Alderman, F.T. Magazine 'An irresistible subject, given urgency by its timeliness and poignancy by its paradoxicality: for the novel is based on the true story of an ancient Jewish codex saved from the fire by a Muslim librarian. Her performance will satisfy many readers.' Guardian Praise for 'March' : 'Brooks's considerable historical research for "March" is pleasingly lightly worn. Her efforts have borne a rich fruit. It is a big, generous romp that manages to make clever use of "Little Women" without suffocating beneath it.' Sunday Times 'A tightly controlled novel in which, you sense, every sentence has been carefully weighed and calculated, and Brooks successfully balances narrative leanness with luxuriant language. "March" is that rare species: a serious popular novel that is not afraid to grapple with big ideas.' Waterstones Books Quarterly 'Researched with great historical thoroughness, "March" hews faithfully to the spirit of Alcott's original ! Louise May Alcott would be well pleased.' The Economist

Product Details

  • File Size: 752 KB
  • Print Length: 435 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Q7DQJA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,101 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
532 of 555 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Crossings Between Cultures May 3, 2011
Format:Hardcover
What becomes of those who independently and courageously navigate the intellectual and cultural shoals that divide cultures? Is it truly possible to make those crossings without relinquishing one's very identity?

Geraldine Brooks poignantly explores these questions in her latest novel, Caleb's Crossing. The story is based on sketchy knowledge of the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk - the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College -- and a member of the Wampanoag tribe in what is now Martha's Vineyard.

This is truly a work of imagination since the sources on Caleb's brief, tragic, and remarkable life are scant. The voice belongs to the fictional Bethia Mayfield, a minister's quick-minded daughter who gently (and sometimes, not so gently) defies the rigid expectations of a Calvinistic society that demand silence and obedience from its womenfolk.

As outsiders, both Bethia and Caleb - who meet on the cusp of adolescence - quickly bond and form a lifelong friendship. On the sly, Bethia absorbs the language and the cultures of the Wopanaak tribe while out in the field; at home, she secretly absorbs lessons that are meant for her brother Makepeace.

Eventually, both serendipitously find themselves at Cambridge. Caleb's Harvard education - conducted in the classical languages of Latin, Greek and Hebrew - is funded by rich English patrons as an experiment as to whether "salvages" can be indoctrinated into Christian culture alongside the dismissive colonial elite. Bethia goes along with Caleb and Makepeace as indentured help, striving to remain in close proximity to scholars and avoid her fate as yet another small settlement farm wife.
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109 of 113 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two People Trying to Cross Societal Lines May 6, 2011
Format:Hardcover
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I have always felt that Geraldine Brooks is a truly gifted writer but I always have mixed feelings about her books. I really liked YEAR OF WONDERS. I hated MARCH. I loved loved loved PEOPLE OF THE BOOK. So, I approached CALEB'S CROSSING with a little trepidation.

Brooks has a real gift in making history come alive in her fiction. In CALEB'S CROSSING, Brooks fictionalizes the life of first Native American to graduate from Harvard. There is very little in the historical record on Caleb but Brooks manages to flesh out a compelling tale told from the perspective of a young woman named Bethia Mayfield who befriends Caleb and becomes like a sister to him. Using Bethia's point of view was genius as it allowed Brooks to delve into the roles of women in the late 1600's. We see not only Caleb's story but that of a young woman who desires nothing more than to be educated in her own right. Bethia observes as her minister father attempts to convert the Wampanoag while he is ignorant of his daughter's friendship with Caleb and fluency in the native tongue. Caleb becomes a pet project of Bethia's father as the minister tutors him in preparation for entry into Harvard. A year later, Bethia finds herself in Cambridge as an indentured servant where she witnesses the pressures Caleb feels in trying to straddle the gap between his two worlds.

CALEB'S CROSSING is a wonderful book. The juxtaposition between Bethia's experiences and Caleb's makes for a truly compelling story. I'm not sure the story would have been as effective without Bethia's voice. I was completely absorbed by the tale. I think Brooks did an excellent job of demonstrating the pressures put on individuals who were attempting to bridge cultural and societal gaps.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A wonderful and moving tale of two people trying to find their place in the world and the toll these actions took on them.
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175 of 189 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The best historical fiction takes historical fact and pulls us in by creating interest in characters of the time period. Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks is one of the most versatile historical fiction writers of today. Her talent lays in takes a slice of history and creating a world we long to enter. Imaginatively conceived and exquisitely written with compelling characters, Caleb's Crossing will command your attention and demand your respect.

1660. Great Harbor (now Martha's Vineyard), Massachusetts. Bethia Mayfield anticipates the arrival of Caleb, a member of the Wampanoag tribe, to her home for tutoring with her minister father. Unperceived by her family, she and Caleb, who share a love of nature, have learned each other's languages and formed a friendship over the past few years. Her brother and Caleb, the first Native American to do so, enter Cambridge to prepare for studies at Harvard. Bethia feels at a loss when she leaves Martha's Vineyard to become a servant in the headmaster's home. Her love of learning prods her secret vigilance in listening to all the lessons.

Integral elements of the remarkable Caleb's Crossing are joy in learning, unexpected death, heartbreaking starvation, and the ever-present bond between Caleb and Bethia despite all hardship and prejudice against their bond. Knowledge equals power in this unique book. Caleb says, "And since it seems that knowledge is no respecter of boundaries, I will take it wheresoever I can...if necessary, I will go into the dark to get it." Intrigued?

You will find yourself reading in a leisurely fashion to fully savor the evocative prose.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like historical fiction you will like this book
If you like historical fiction you will like this book. I have lived in Wampanoag area for many years and have attended pow wows. Read more
Published 16 hours ago by kee
3.0 out of 5 stars OPINION OF THIS BOOK
THIS WAS A GOOD READ. IT TOOK ME LONGER TO READ THAN USUAL I HAD TO UNDERSTAND THE TIME PERIOD BECAUSE OF THE DIFFERENT SPELLINGS FROM MODERN DAY ENGLISH. Read more
Published 3 days ago by D Gossett
5.0 out of 5 stars a powerful tribute to open mindedness
I loved this book and have given it to many friends. It is well researched, very engaging, and rings true. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Joey
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading
It was a very moving book with lots of historic background
Published 15 days ago by Dorothy Child
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
works
Published 18 days ago by fox
5.0 out of 5 stars great historical fictionalized read
Well written; great historical fictionalized read; outstanding characters.
Published 21 days ago by Richard Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Two lives cross and change
A member of our book club recommended this book, and it did not disappoint! Bethia, a missionary pastor's daughter, loves to roam the small island she and her family reside on in... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing, beautiful story
I wanted to reread it the minute it was over. Excellent writing, beautiful story, wonderfully developed characters.
Published 27 days ago by Deborah Hendrickson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
loved it
Published 1 month ago by new-to-digital
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Interesting Moments, But Ultimately Disappointing
If I see Geraldine Brooks' name on a book: sold! She is a really good writer. Unfortunately, this book did not work for me, and maybe it was the ending which seemed forced and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Always Reading!
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More About the Author

Geraldine Brooks is the author of the novels Caleb's Crossing, People of the Book, March (which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2006) and Year of Wonders. She has also written two works of non-fiction: Nine Parts of Desire, based on her experiences among Muslim women in the mideast, and Foreign Correspondence, a quirky memoir about an Australian childhood enriched by penpals around the world and her adult quest to find them. Brooks started out as a reporter in her hometown, Sydney, and went on to cover conflicts as a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East. She now lives on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts with her husband Tony Horwitz, two sons, a horse named Butter and a dog named Milo.

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Caleb's Crossing - Kindle edition
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