Alice Heiserman's Reviews > Caleb's Crossing

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
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's review
Sep 16, 2012

it was amazing
Read in September, 2012

Geraldine Brooks once more plunges into insights of how people practice their religion. In this case, it is fundamentalist Christianity. The plot centers around the true story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. However, by having the female protagonist tell the story, we get a woman's insights into the issue of assimilation and women's rights or lack thereof in the 17th century. Since so little was known about the man, Caleb, Brooks' story is a fiction but it rings true based on clear characterizations and descriptions of the setting. What is interesting to me is that Harvard was originally founded to train men for the ministry and a group of Londoners donated money to fund Indians to study so they could spread Christianity among the so-called "pagans." Brooks is sensitive to the Indian culture and the power of the shamans and the humanity of all the people. The hardships of the narrator are sensitively described without pathos but in a clear-eyed fashion whether they be the death of parents or siblings, her indenture so her brother could attend Harvard, her relationship to a raped woman, her choice of a marriage partner, and the love between the Indian Caleb and the white Christian woman. This is a worthwhile book.

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