Reflection and Connection in Caleb's Crossing
I stepped into Bethia Mayfield’s world in 17th century Martha’s Vineyard, a lush, yet untamed colonial place. Soon enough, I was pulled into Bethia’s life with the contrast with harsh colonial life and death, the realities of being a girl in a patriarchal, Puritan society, and her constant intrigue with the Wampanoag natives around her small English settlement.
Her real adventures begin when she meets a native boy, later known as Caleb, as she flirts with a life and beliefs much different from her own strict Calvinist upbringing. As they grow, all too soon, into adult responsibilities forced on them by tragic losses, their paths continue to follow each other as each of them deals with the limits of their racial and gender-based cultural limitations. As I followed Bethia’s and Caleb’s journeys, I was struck with their perseverance in the face of harsh adversity and discrimination. Her constant struggle to see and follow God’s will in her life resonated with my own Calvinist background, a dimension that added to my own sense of connection with Bethia.
Bethia and the other characters are well developed and emotionally compelling, letting the story bring me through highs of joy, lows of grief, and rage at injustice. Throughout the book, 17th century colonial America comes alive in both landscape and culture, while Bethia’a bright and colorful personality makes the read an enjoyable adventure. Besides being an enjoyable story, the subjects dealt with in the book forced me to reflect on issues of cultural bias and discrimination that are still relevant today.