I received Caleb's Crossing as part of my gift package for being a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding this past July. It was perfect timing because I was about to head to Cape Cod a few weeks later, and was looking for a good summer read. What is more, Caleb's Crossing is set on Martha's Vineyard in the late 1600's, a 40 minute drive + ferry from where I would be staying.
Caleb's Crossing tells the story of Bethia Mayfield, one of the first European inhabitants of Martha's Vineyard. Bethia is the daughter of the island's minister, who is working to convert the island's native people to Christianity. Although Bethia's character is a product of fiction, the Wopanaak boy she befriends, Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, is not. Caleb was one of the first Native Americans to matriculate from Harvard University in 1665. Caleb and Bethia meet by accident when they are teenagers. She is rebelling from the constraints of being a girl in Pilgrim New England, and he is walking on his lands as they are quickly being encroached upon by settlers. They form a close friendship and teach each other their respective languages and beliefs. As a result of several tragedies both find themselves in Cambridge, Caleb to study at Harvard and Bethia to work off an indentured servitude. In the end, they both make it back to Martha's Vineyard, but only one survives to live out their life.
I was captivated by the story and struck by Brooks' ability to write in the 'old' English style in a way that wasn't overly affected. The story was compelling enough, but not riveting. I enjoyed the book as a mediocre work of fiction that was perfect for reading in the evenings once Tessa was asleep and I had a moment to relax and appreciate the warm summer Cape Cod breeze. But Caleb's Crossing was nothing particularly special.
MY RATING: 5/10.