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Book Review: Caleb's Crossing


I have a few authors that I always 'follow' with reading all of their books, and Geraldine Brooks is one of them. I read her book titled, "People of the Book" one year for the One Book One Lincoln event within a small church book club, and enjoyed her style. A year or so later, I had read most of her books, and loved her book, "March", which won her a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and a permanent scout out for my annual book lists.

Caleb's Crossing was her newest book, out in 2011, and it is along the same genre that she writes most of-historical fiction. Being as this is my favorite type of book to read, it's no wonder I choose to read all of them! I especially love her Notes sections in the back of the books, where she explains her original inspiration, and the facts that the story was based off of.

This story in particular is a story that is set in colonial times, off the coast of (what is now) Martha's Vineyard in Great Harbor. It is about a young woman, Bethia, who is a Puritan, and her secret child-hood friend, a Wampanoag native who changes his name to a "Christian name" Caleb. The story intertwines many years, and eventually decades, and how both Bethia and Caleb end up going to Harvard (within the first years it was open) and what that experience was like. Of course, being as women weren't allowed to attend, Bethia made sure she was able to hear the lectures by serving the students in the kitchen.

Geraldine Brooks has a strong female lead in all of her books, most often ones that question their way of life (historical fiction, remember) and are usually more mature than the average teenager. I find her stories very well written, intriguing, but usually a little bit off-setting in the way of sexual tension between characters. In some stories (like March)'s necessary, in others it's irrelevant, annoying, and seemingly used as filler. A good ending is always worth the book, though, and I believe this book had a fine ending. I would give Caleb's Crossing a 3 out of 5 stars for excellent prose, interesting description of a historical landmark (Harvard), and would recommend this to anyone who loves a good historical fiction read.


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