Customer Reviews for

Caleb's Crossing

Average Rating 3.5
( 243 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

36 out of 38 people found this review helpful.

A Special Niche in Outstanding Historical Fiction

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 ...
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. "And then I woke, on my cold pallet in this stranger's kitchen, with ice winds from the cracked window fingering my flesh and a snowflake melting slowly on the fireless hearth." The characters are absorbing. The soulful narrative voice of Bethia has an ethereal quality. She is haunted by guilt, taking upon herself blame for a smallpox outbreak, a death during the delivery of a baby-all because of her secret relationship with Caleb. Caleb yearns to be a Pawaaw, or healer of his people. For him, knowledge respects no boundaries. He glows with appreciation of life, zest for learning, curiosity and love of nature. The release of Caleb's Crossing coincides with an important Harvard University event. This May a degree will be awarded to Tiffany Smalley, the first Martha's Vineyard member of the Wampanoag tribe since Caleb to graduate. An official portrait of Caleb will be painted in commemoration. To what does Caleb cross? Read Caleb's Crossing to find out. In the book, Ms. Brooks highlights this question: What are the effects of attempting to Christianize an already spiritual, established civilization? Her own opinion is not expressed. Instead, she tells Caleb's story with forthrightness and clarity, allowing the reader to draw his own conclusions. I thank Viking for providing a copy. The opinions expressed unbiased and solely that of the reviewer. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont

posted by nyauthoress on May 3, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Imaginative historical novel... but a little flat

This novel is a beautifully written story, and I think it captures the harsh difficulties of 17th century New England. It's particularly effective in describing the fragility of life in the colonial world, the futility of a woman's position in society, and the dominanc...
This novel is a beautifully written story, and I think it captures the harsh difficulties of 17th century New England. It's particularly effective in describing the fragility of life in the colonial world, the futility of a woman's position in society, and the dominance of religious influence. The storyline is compelling, and at times it was quite moving.

But something about this never clicked, and I'm struggling to identify why it didn't. I think the biggest problem is this: Though this book endeavors to tell Caleb's story, it really ends up being about Bethia. Caleb is just too simple... too compartmentalized. Like the "George Washington never told a lie" version of the man. In fact, many of the characters are a little underdeveloped, and this gives the story a kind of breezy feel. Everything is just a bit too convenient, as if characters are drawn out in a way to move a story along... not because they're people with real depth.

To sum up: It's a good novel. But not a great one.

posted by ElectraMagnet on June 26, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    As always, Geraldine Brooks has written an excellent book that contains many points of view on a complicated topic. The way life was lived early in this country and the way people were responding to the circumstances they found them selves in: religion, tradition, race issues, family ties and responsibilities. A good book to make you stop and think about your way of life compare to theirs and wonder how you would have survived (or not) under the same conditions. Great for book club discussions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    a captivating story with an unusual setting and perspective

    Appealing characters, mostly realistic plot, an interesting way to flesh out meager historic references; Caleb's sad but true ending made it all the more poignant

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  • Posted October 5, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    An interestingly presented “story” based on historical facts with full bodied characters engaged in complex inter-relationships between individuals as well as between cultures, both local Indians & islanders and islanders & mainlanders. The unexpected ending, based on historical facts, is mitigated by the authors notes.
    Any adult interested in a complex, engaging story would enjoy this book, the historical perspectives and addendums add pique. I would definitely read another book by this author. Introduced through a book club, I would recommend this for book clubs as there is a wealth of topics for discussion.

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  • Posted September 14, 2012

    You will see the difference between fine literature and other popular fiction books by reading Caleb's Crossing.

    Whether you are a casual reader or a dedicated bookworm, a lover of pop-fiction or literary works of art, you will feel grateful to Geraldine Brooks for including you into her world of a deeply moving and well-researched interpretation of this chapter in the early American experience of well-meaning missionaries and their families as they live among and learn to respect the Indians of Martha's Vineyard. Let your spirit open into the mystical world of Indian beliefs as they interact with the Christian world of hard-fast rules and rigidly-held behaviors. Let the experience open your mind and heart and you will be much the richer for it. Unforgettable!!!! This book leaves soft footprints in your soul. Cape Breton

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT

    I AM GIVING THE REVIEW OF THIS BOOK TO OUR BOOK CLUB IN OCTOBER. IT IS SO WELL WRITTEN AND KEPT MY INTEREST TO THE END. GERALDINE BROOKS KNOWS HOW TO END A STORY BETTER THAN MOST WHO LEAVE ME FEELING AS THOUGH SOMETHING WAS LEFT OUT. THIS BOOK WAS FICTION BUT HAD A FEELING OF TRUTH AND HISTORY ABOUT IT. I AM SO GLAD THAT I CHOSE TO REVIEW IT FOR MY BOOKCLUB.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Not Really Christian Fiction

    I was under the impression that this book focused on the life of Caleb, an Indian 'crossing' into the white man's world ~ instead, the main character is a girl that knows Caleb. It definitely does not focus on the redemption of the LORD Jesus Christ ~ just a mention here and there.

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    Another great book by Geraldine Brooks

    I have enjoyed all of her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Thoughtful and educational.

    I love American historical fiction. This book made me put myself back in those early days when America was so wild and untamed. I felt like I could relate to the main characters. I liked that the story was based on a true event. It's worth the read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Great early Ame Harvard and Native Americans

    Well written and moving ending

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  • Posted February 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great Read!

    Enjoyed this book immensively!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    One kernel to full story

    I love the way this author pulls out a small historical note and generates an entire story incorporating available facts from the historical record. So interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2011

    A non-starter

    The story is thin-skinned, padded with questionable 17th c. English jargon which becomes ever-so-tiresome, but which at least allows for an historical context to appeal to those who have read the pretext over and over again either as fiction or non.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2011

    Worthwhile read.

    Good historical fiction. Interesting characters.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2011

    Excellent historical fiction

    Very moving story,

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2011

    Fascinating account of early life on martha's vineyard and harvard university.

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 243 Customer Reviews
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