Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #65: Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

A Year of Wonders blew me away, and I also loved People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Despite this, I haven’t actually read her award winning novel March because I feel like I should read Little Women first. Caleb’s Crossing is another piece of historical fiction inspired by true events, like her previous novels (the Civil War a true event, even if the March family was fictional). The narrator, Bethia, is completely made up by Brooks, but there actually was a Native American man named Caleb who graduated from Harvard in the mid to late 17th century.
Bethia is the minister’s daughter on the island that is now known as Martha’s Vineyard, living with her father who is intent on building relationships between the new white settlers and the island’s Native American population, her older brother who wants to follow in his father’s foot steps, and a much younger sister. The novel begins as Bethia finds out that her father plans to have Caleb move in with them and tutor him in order to make him a bridge between the two communities as well as help with converting the local populace. Little does her father know that Bethia and Caleb have been friends for years despite conventions of the time that restrict their interactions based on both gender, and ethnic and cultural differences.

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