Rana's Reviews > Caleb's Crossing

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
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's review
Jun 29, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: book-club-reads
Read in June, 2012

My book club selected this book for our June meeting, and I was chosen (or I suppose I volunteered) to lead the discussion. I enjoyed reading it all along, and especially so during the second half of the book that saw our 1660s heroine move from her secluded island home to the campus of Harvard University in Massachusetts. But it was during our book club discussion, and up until the last few minutes when time was short and much was left to be discussed, that I really appreciated the richness of the story. The basis of the book is the story of a Native American (Caleb) whose real-life self was the first of his people to matriculate and graduate from Harvard. In her investigative journalistic prowess, Geraldine Brooks recreates a tale out of probing research and careful imagination. Caleb's is a story of tribal devastation, individualistic will, and the search for a just god.

But it was young Bethia who contributed the complexities of life that speak to young womanhood and the gender discrimination and religious doctrine that so stifle it. It was her father who lived by missionary zeal; her grandfather embodied settler colonialism; her mother survived through strength and patience before falling ill to medical ignorance; her husband and father-in-law accepted her as the brilliant woman she was and opened nevertheless-very-limited opportunities to her for educational advancement. There is so much more in this book - displays of the puritanism that prevailed in early America, the bloody battles between the original inhabitants and European settlers, the educational system that was superior beyond its means and age. This is a work of fiction full of tangible history and life. I highly recommend it.

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