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Caleb's Crossing

A Novel

Brooks, Geraldine

(Downloadable Audiobook - 2011)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Caleb's Crossing
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Once again, Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans, is restless and curious. She yearns for an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At the age of twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative, secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman, against whose magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. There, Bethia finds herself reluctantly indentured as a housekeeper and can closely observe Caleb's crossing of cultures. Like Brooks' beloved narrator Anna in Year of Wonders, Bethia proves an emotionally irresistible guide to the wilds of Martha's Vineyard and the intimate spaces of the human heart. Evocative and utterly absorbing, Caleb's Crossing further establishes Brooks' place as one of our most acclaimed novelists.
Publisher: [United States] : Blackstone Audio, Inc. : Made available through hoopla, 2011
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 1441790209
9781441790200
Branch Call Number: Streaming audiobook
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 audio file (12hr., 07 min.)) :,digital
Additional Contributors: Ehle, Jennifer 1969-, Narrator
hoopla digital

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Feb 26, 2014
  • adam_cooper rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Caleb's Crossing makes an excellent audio book as the first person narrative is enlivened with healthy doses of arcane expressions from Puritanical America and native American dialogue. The narrator Jennifer Ehle, who you might remember as Lizzie Bennett in BBC's Pride and Prejudice circa 1993 (aka the one with Colin Firth in it), is simply divine. Caleb's Crossing is engrossing and touches not only on pre-revolutionary America's shame in its relations with its indigenous population but also the dis-empowerment of its female inhabitants who are even more restricted than the native American boys. This sprawling epic is necessarily tragic but also charts an unconventional hero's journey where our narrator, the headstrong Bethia, shares equal hero status with the eponymous Caleb. The historical aspect is nothing short of fascinating, charting the early rise of Harvard University and the frictions between settlers of different denominations within the New World's Christian community of the mid-1600s. Australia's own Geraldine Brooks is a national living treasure and writes sophisticated yet simple prose suitable for readers of all levels. Confession time: outside of listening to short story podcasts on New Yorker and This American Life this was my first ever audio book and I am hooked!

Jul 19, 2013
  • tkaeu rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

An ABSOLUTE favorite! After listening to the audiobook, I hope to someday add this book to my own collection. This was my first "read" by Geraldine Brooks. To me, her writing style was refreshing and captivating. Differing from other opinion's in the comment section, I was impressed and pleased with Jennifer Ehle's reading of Caleb's Crossing. From the first chapter, I was drawn in and related to the Bethia's struggles with the adherents of her faith vs faith's application in day to day living. The story of Bethia forced to confront my own life and my own courage (or lack of) in the light of injustices that I have witnessed over the last 30 years. It is somewhat telling...the timing of this book (published in 2011) and the Supreme's Court recent decision on the 1965 Voting Rights Act and then recent outcries from the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Injustice continues to haunt our country. Prejudice is not nearly as overt as it was in the 1600s, but in all the attempts to hide it, often it rears an ugly head. President Barack Obama's presidency is a prime example to me of this reality. Thank you Geraldine Brooks for sharing one woman's struggle to extinguish one's preconceived judgments of others who differ in faith and culture and to walk a life with open-minded courage and tenacity, expressing kindness, compassion and dignity towards someone outside her "tribe", her faith, her upbringing.

Jul 19, 2013
  • tkaeu rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

An ABSOLUTE favorite! After listening to the audiobook, I hope to someday add this book to my own collection. This was my first "read" by Geraldine Brooks. To me, her writing style was refreshing and captivating. Differing from other opinion's in the comment section, I was impressed and pleased with Jennifer Ehle's reading of Caleb's Crossing. From the first chapter, I was drawn in and related to the Bethia's struggles with the adherents of her faith vs faith's application in day to day living. The story of Bethia forced to confront my own life and my own courage (or lack of) in the light of injustices that I have witnessed over the last 30 years. It is somewhat telling...the timing of this book (published in 2011) and the Supreme's Court recent decision on the 1965 Voting Rights Act and then recent outcries from the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Injustice continues to haunt our country. Prejudice is not nearly as overt as it was in the 1600s, but in all the attempts to hide it, often it rears an ugly head. President Barack Obama's presidency is a prime example to me of this reality. Thank you Geraldine Brooks for sharing one woman's struggle to extinguish one's preconceived judgments of others who differ in faith and culture and to walk a life with open-minded courage and tenacity, expressing kindness, compassion and dignity towards someone outside her "tribe", her faith, her upbringing.

Feb 01, 2013
  • hilln rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A wonderful book! I was completely taken in by the story and setting, the mid-1600s on an island off Cape Cod and Cambridge Massachusetts. The main character, Bethia, is a ferociously intelligent girl who hungers for knowledge in an age when females were denied the right to exercise their brains. How Bethia finds a way to pursue not just learning but wisdom is a wonderful journey. I listened to the audiobook, and must say that the reader's voice was a but too nasal and fussy sounding to my ears. Nevertheless I was still swept up in the story which will stay with me for a long time.

We become privy to an exceptional historical glimpse into 1665 and the inaugural formative years of the Harvard University. In particular an early attempt at native integration with government sponsor to drive the savage from the Indian, and assimilate him into educated contemporary life.
The focus is on Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University. Harvard’s first constructed brick building was assigned as an ‘Indian House’ where the attending First Nations were lodged and attended to study.
Naturally this historical narrative is rife with oppression and prejudice however more significant were the gains and abilities of some of these attendees against all odds. This is really the meat of the novel as well as a few of the tragedies inherent in the story.
There were four Native students who officially occupied the Native house. Out of these four, one of them, Eleazar, died before graduating. The second, Iacoombs, also died in a Mariners shipwreck while on the way back to Harvard just two months before graduating. John Wampus left the school to become a Mariner and only Caleb graduated throughout the whole existence of the experimental ‘Indian House’ endeavor. Caleb died of Tuberculosis, known as ‘consumption’ in those days, less than a year after graduation.
All historically interesting stuff but in the last half I just couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to make it go away. It got real boring real quick and I was perpetually near the end on a daily basis, falling down a bottomless pit craving to stop this carnage. Beware my friends.
By John Archibald, October, 2012

Aug 16, 2012
  • 70greengirl rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I jumped at reading this book as at least one of her novels is among my favorites (The Year of Wonders) This book took me a while to get into and relate to. As I got to know the characters and understand what time in history and where they were in the world I got pulled in. Like many of her stories there are no nice neat happy endings. Lots of sadness but a good story that eventually was hard to put down as I wanted to know what would happen.

Oct 07, 2011
  • lisastitch rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

An interesting juxtaposition between Bethia's constraints as a woman in the 1600's, and the prejudice that Caleb confronts as a native American.

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app10 Version gurli Last updated 2014/12/09 10:52