2012

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Caleb's Crossing Book Cover

Caleb’s Crossing tells the story of a young man from Martha’s Vineyard who, in 1665, became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College.  This fact is a small piece of actual history that the author discovered and used to weave her brilliant tale of love, faith, magic, and adventure.

Living in the isolated Puritan settlement of Great Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard, Bethia Mayfield, the bright young daughter of the local minister, balances her strict religion with a passionate love of nature and a growing curiosity about the culture of the Wampanoag tribe that populates the island. When Bethia secretly strikes up a friendship with a young Wampanoag named Caleb, she unknowingly begins a journey that will shape her life. Intelligent, independent, and kind, Bethia is the narrator and the heart of Geraldine Brooks’s stunning new novel, Caleb’s Crossing, the story of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, who in 1665 became the very first Native American to graduate from Harvard.

Caleb’s Crossing follows Bethia and Caleb from Grand Harbor to Cambridge and beyond, charting not only their crossing of the stretch of ocean between island and mainland but of the vast—and sometimes unbridgeable—expanse between Native American and white settler, between pagan and Christian, and between male and female.

Geraldine Brooks. Picture credit by Randi Baird
photo credit by Randi Baird

Geraldine Brooks is the author of six books, including the novel Year of Wonders and the nonfiction work Nine Parts of Desire; her second novel, March, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2006.

Earlier in her career, Brooks was a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and was stationed in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East. Born in Australia, she currently divides her time between Martha’s Vineyard and Sydney.


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