Caleb’s Crossing – It’s What We’re Reading

May 2012

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Caleb's Crossing
Caleb’s Crossing
Geraldine Brooks

When Geraldine Brooks first moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 2006, she discovered a map of the early native Wampanoag people who inhabited the island before the white settlers came. The map marked the birthplace of Caleb, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College in 1665. Brooks was fascinated by the idea of a young native succeeding in this early bastion of puritanical elitism. She immersed herself in the minimal records of Caleb’s tribe and those of white families who settled on the island in the 1640’s. Brooks created her story, Caleb’s Crossing, in the voice of the brilliant young daughter of the island’s Calvinist minister, Bethia Mayfield. Bethia hungers for knowledge and education but has to stifle her dreams while her dull brothers are carefully prepared for study at Harvard. She meets Caleb at age 12 and their mutual affinity for nature and knowledge creates a lifelong bond.
Brooks creates a fascinating look at early academia, the stifled lives of young women and the crush of civilization on Native American lives. As in her other fiction, Geraldine Brooks takes on big ideas and couches them in rich historical detail. A good read.

This novel can be found in the Popular Reading collection on the first floor of the Library.