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Caleb's Crossing: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Geraldine Brooks
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (542 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.78
You Save: $5.22 (33%)
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: 672 KB
  • Print Length: 435 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0007333544
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Q7DQJA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,356 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
520 of 543 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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99 of 102 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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173 of 187 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 When two cultures meet
This is a nice portrayal of when two cultures meet. The colonisers run roughshod over the original inhabitants who are lost in the gritty `noise' of colonisation.
Published 3 days ago by Indiranda
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Historically, but Sometimes Boring
I bought this because my sister had recommended it, and I did enjoy it, because my husband and I had just been on a trip to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Read more
Published 4 days ago by J. Goodson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
A skilled author--I've enjoyed all her books, I like the historical basis plus a good story. I hope she is writing another.
Published 5 days ago by Barbara
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story
Good story ,but some facts not believable. Some phrases such as "as the crow flies" were not coined language until the 1700s.
Published 6 days ago by Nancy Coggins
5.0 out of 5 stars Good story well told.
As usual with Geraldine Brooks, this book is beautifully written. Although it is written in the language of the time (1600s), it is not a difficult read. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Ren Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Native American life and lore versus new settlement.
Enjoyed the receptiveness of the young girl to her new friend Caleb. Was saddened in some ways of the loss of Caleb's health due to the ridged , stark life of academia instead of... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Deb Boettcher
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crossing
Caleb's Crosssing is one of the best written books I have ever read. I even shed a tear at Caleb's passing,
Three cheers for G. Brooks.
Published 14 days ago by Donna Kimmich
5.0 out of 5 stars Caleb's Crossing
Interesting depiction of life in those times with emphasis on Indian culture.

Also found enlightening the role of females in the society of those times.
Published 27 days ago by Joan Pabian
4.0 out of 5 stars Great history and subject
I have my own personal history with both Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and so I found it interesting to revisit them back in time.
Published 27 days ago by Zekesma
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent writing. I love historical fiction. This is a very interesting read. Author has a different wonderful style. Read it.
Published 1 month ago by reader
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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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