Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

68%

31 Critic Reviews

While no masterpiece, this work nevertheless contributes in good measure to the current and very welcome revitalization of the historical novel.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A bestselling tale of passion and belief, magic and adventure from the author of The Secret Chord and of March, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha's vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest between old ways and new, eventually becoming the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. Inspired by a true story and narrated by the irresistible Bethia, Caleb’s Crossing brilliantly captures the triumphs and turmoil of two brave, openhearted spirits who risk everything in a search for knowledge at a time of superstition and ignorance.




From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Geraldine Brooks

See more books from this Author
Geraldine Brooks is the author of March, the recipient of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. She is also the author of Year of Wonders, Nine Parts of Desire, and Foreign Correspondence. Previously, Brooks was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East. She lives with her husband, the author Tony Horwitz, and their son.
 
Published May 3, 2011 by Penguin Books. 435 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jun 05 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Caleb's Crossing
All: 31 | Positive: 21 | Negative: 10

Kirkus

Below average
Apr 15 2011

While no masterpiece, this work nevertheless contributes in good measure to the current and very welcome revitalization of the historical novel.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Jane Smiley on May 13 2011

Beautifully written from beginning to end, it reconfirms Geraldine Brooks’s reputation as one of our most supple and insightful ­novelists.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Susan Reynolds on May 29 2011

...Geraldine Brooks has created a multidimensional, inspiring yet unpredictable character.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Paul Smith on Apr 28 2011

There is too much at stake in pre-modern New England, and Brooks’s achievement is that we see just how much that is, for the red characters and the white ones.

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The Bookbag

Excellent
Reviewed by Robin Leggett

It's a fascinating story, evocatively and absorbingly told.

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USA Today

Below average
Reviewed by Jocelyn McClurg on May 23 2011

Unfortunately, while Caleb's Crossing is beautifully written, it reads like a puritanical mash-up of Avatar meets Dances With Wolves.

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Huffington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Nina Sankovitch on May 05 2011

Caleb's Crossing is a mesmerizing novel that left me feeling both sad and emboldened...

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San Francisco Chronicle

Below average
Reviewed by Abigail Deutsch on May 07 2011

This reimagining of 17th century New England by a 21st century novelist feels like a reimagining of 17th century New England by a 21st century novelist - in ways both helpful and harmful.

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The Seattle Times

Below average
Reviewed by Kim Curtis on May 15 2011

One of the novel's few shortcomings is its pacing, which sometimes feels a bit plodding despite the story's inherent drama. Shipwrecks, fatal illnesses, even an accidental drowning — all feel similarly accepted and overcome with the austerity of the time.

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Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Toby Berry on May 07 2011

With warmer characters, "Caleb's Crossing" had the potential to be a classic... Instead, it is merely another superb work of historical fiction from Brooks.

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Denver Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Robin Vidimos on May 08 2011

Brooks' triumph is to bring the reader into a different world, and to do it with her signature style — researched and nuanced, one that jumps from the page into the reader's mind and heart.

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Tampa Bay Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Angie Holan on Jul 03 2011

Brooks includes many plot twists and turns, and her language is lyrical and pleasing, not too archaic but definitely not modern.

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PopMatters

Below average
Reviewed by David Maine on Jun 19 2012

I can only report that Caleb’s Crossing, although it succeeds as a satisfying and well-wrought story, is not a great deal more than that.

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Chicago Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Jun 10 2011

Even when creating the worst of situations, Brooks displays that a consistently appealing verve, an intelligence, a liveliness, and a spark, and she does this in book after book without ever seeming to tire of doing what she does best.

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The New Zealand Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Christine Sheehy on Aug 28 2011

It is a beautiful, absorbing and tragic tale of a people and a culture under pressure and an engaging account of the harsh realities of life for a young English woman in 17th century America.

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The Monthly

Below average
Reviewed by Kirsten Tanter on May 01 2011

Despite the fascinating narrative material here, Brooks’s earnest intent makes only a limited attempt to engage the reader’s imagination...

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Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Mary Herwood on Jun 11 2012

The archaic language of her characters is authentic and beautiful.

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The Blue Bookcase

Good
Reviewed by Christina on Jun 30 2011

Reading Caleb's Crossing is like spending a few hours touring a Puritan homestead that has been preserved and made into a museum

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Boston Bibliophile

Below average
Reviewed by Marie on May 17 2011

This book has none of the magic that made her last so special; it struck me as a pretty ordinary if well-executed historical-fiction piece.

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Tony's Book World

Good
Reviewed by Tony on Jun 30 2011

“Caleb’s Crossing” is outstanding historical fiction that presents the entire Puritan and Native American society of that time with insight and compassion.

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Small World Reads Blog

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Small on Jun 09 2012

Brooks is a beautiful writer and captivating storyteller.

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Reactions to Reading

Good
Reviewed by Bernadette on May 03 2011

...Brooks has again taken a small, little-known event and used it to explore big themes alongside her engaging storytelling.

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Burton Book Review

Good
on May 09 2011

I loved this story both for Bethia's plights and for the historical significance of my country. I am always saddened how the Indians were treated during the colonization, yet Caleb's Crossing shows there were some who believed in their abilities and were willing to co-exist peacefully.

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Hungry like the Woolf

Below average
Jan 17 2012

Brooks maintains the primary skeletal features of the history in her narrator Bethia Mayfield’s telling, but deviates from various of the few known details.

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Chalk the Sun

Good
Reviewed by Julie on Jul 07 2011

From painstaking research, she weaves nuanced novels with rich characters and fascinating plots that are as engaging as they are informative.

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Judith Starkston

Good
Reviewed by Judith Starkston on Jun 18 2011

Once again, a masterful work of historical fiction by one of America’s best contemporary writers.

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Reading the Past

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Johnson on Nov 28 2011

This is a brilliantly composed novel full of wit, spiritual contemplation and the deep love of learning.

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Marisa Reads It and Writes It

Good
Reviewed by Marisa Eastwood on Aug 22 2011

The story is told so perfectly that I cannot find one fault with it.

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The Magic Lasso

Below average
Reviewed by Jill Celeste on Nov 18 2011

...I was not as enraptured by this story as I was with Brooks’ earlier books.

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The Girl from the Ghetto

Good
Apr 08 2011

Brooks is a not only a captivating writer, but also a master researcher, and she gives me so much pleasure reading her fictionalized tales about the Native American man she has discovered.

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Bilgrimage

Below average
Reviewed by William Lindsey on Jul 24 2012

...I don't think that--despite her enormous talent--Brooks quite succeeds in fleshing out either narrative.

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Reader Rating for Caleb's Crossing
77%

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Terri McGinty

Terri McGinty 5 Sep 2013

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