This post contains affiliate links.  One of my daughter’s had to read Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks for school.  We decided to read it aloud, but for me, the book started too slowly. Set in the mid-1600s, there was too much ‘thee’ and ‘thou’, and I was ready to give up on the book and set it aside. Thankfully, I didn’t. I loved this story!

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

About Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Bethia is the daughter of a preacher.  Unfortunately, she has a brilliant mind that she cannot hone because of her sex and the era when she lives.  Her father teaches her brother, Makepeace, but Makepeace struggles to learn.  Even though Bethia is never educated, she picks up many lessons simply by listening to her father educate Makepeace.

As a young girl, Bethia loves roaming the island wilderness where she grows up, which is now named Martha’s Vineyard.  On some of her explorations, she meets the Native American who she dubs “Caleb.”  They become fast friends, especially since Bethia can communicate with him because she picked up the language listening to her father work with the Native Americans.  In secret, Bethia teaches Caleb English.

Through a series of twists and turns, Caleb finds himself studying away from his village in preparation for entrance to Harvard.  However, he’s not alone–Makepeace and Bethia are with him.

My Thoughts on the Book

Brooks creates the story with the meager information she has on the real Caleb who became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Since there is little historical information, the book is entirely fictional. The main character, Bethia, never existed. However, in Brooks’ work, Bethia is the main character, and Caleb is secondary.

While I loved the story, I didn’t always like the way that Brooks’ delivered it. Since she wrote this in diary form, there was far too much of Bethia simply recapping the story, instead of Brooks’ showing, rather than telling, what happened. This is especially true when it comes to Bethia’s romantic relationship and the end of the book.

Simply because of the frequent telling rather than showing, I give Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks 4 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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