Caleb’s Crossing is one of the most hauntingly beautiful narratives of historical fiction that I have read in a long time. The book is set in 16th century New England, and is based on the true story of a young Wampanoag man who became the first Native American graduate from Harvard. We view the unfolding tale through the eyes of young Bethia Mayfield, a Puritan maid who is utterly true to the norms of her time, but manages nonetheless to have a spunky, and completely believable, disregard for conventions. Caleb (and Bethia, almost incidentally) grow from naïve youngsters roaming over an untamed island to become responsible young adults who face difficult decisions in the changing life of the ‘New World’.
This is historical fiction of the best kind. Highest commendations to Geraldine Brooks for inviting us to explore a little-known portion of American history.