BlogHer Book Club's Caleb's Crossing

BlogHer Review

"At sunset, if I am near the water -- and it is hard to be very far from it here -- I pause to watch the splendid disc set the brine aflame and then douse itself in its own fiery broth." So says main character Bethia Mayfield as she poetically describes her most favorite place; Martha's Vineyard in the book Caleb's Crossing artfully written by Geraldine Brooks.

I am a huge fan of historical fiction, so in reading this story I was able to get a feel of what it might have been like in early America during the mid 1600's. I closely related to the main character Bethia, and found myself feeling frustrated for her as the heavy doors of knowledge that she craved kept shutting on her. I appreciated her struggle of wanting to be a "good Christian" daughter, along with her independant nature and balance of doing whatever she wanted (Which was simply to learn) anyway. I also appreciated the narration aspect, during the different points of Bethia's life. I kind of wish her narration had been told completely as an older woman, replaying her life for us instead of at the various points. It kind of skipped around, although I could follow along just fine.

The development of Bethia's relationship with her Native American friend Caleb from childhood through adulthood was fantastic. I had no idea that Native Americans were even allowed to attend higher education in the 1600's beyond learning to read and write, or the missionaries trying to convert the "salvages". I really appreciated the author's ability to educate the reader on the spirituality of Native American's. So much fervent passion, and you could almost feel it. (At least I was able to feel it, being that I love Native spirituality anyway).

I was a little disappointed in the character development of Bethia's older brother Makepeace. I felt that there needed to be more depth to him. Make him a villian, or strengthen the point that he only wanted what was best for his family. He seemed to waffle too much.

The story line was able to weave heart, soul, love, loss, trust, life's lessons, wisdom, romance, and grief into a tight little package. I was intrigued from the very first chapter, and enjoyed it all the way through.

The romance storyline was good, and fairly realistic, and I love how the twist of events played out. (No spoilers here! You have to go read it.) I was very surprised that there were actual real characters in the story. Out of all the characters, Bethia's was the only completely invented person. I love that!

There was great wisdom in the story. One of my favorite quotes in the book was when Makepeace is scolding his sister Bethia. He says "Your own voice is drowning out the voice of God. Quiet your mind. Do this. You will soon see your error." What a beautiful piece of wisdom. This lesson shows itself in so many different places in the storyline.

I think anyone who picks up this book will be pleasantly surprised, and will enjoy the book as I have.


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