Compelling Characters in Caleb's Crossing

BlogHer Review

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks is a fictional account of some of the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. The story is told by his friend/neighbor Bethia.

I had a mixed reaction to this book and I'll explain why. I really enjoyed Brooks' writing style. Her writing wasn't overly flowery, but it was detailed and flowed easily. I also found her attention to historical detail to be quite good.

I enjoyed learning about Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, though this is a fictional account. I had never heard of him and probably never would have heard of him if not for this book. I enjoyed Caleb as a character.

But, I had a couple of problems with this book. While I enjoyed Caleb as a character, I think I would have enjoyed it more if he were the narrator. He seemed far removed from me, as a reader, because I only heard about him through Bethia's accounting. Since this book focused on him, I think it would have worked better with him telling his own story.

While I found the characters to be compelling, I found the book as a whole to be a little dull. Again, I may have been more engaged with the story if Caleb had been telling it. I had a hard time liking Bethia or feeling like I really knew her. Due to this, I got a little bit bored with this story. While Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck is a great and inspirational figure, I don't know that he was dynamic enough to carry an entire novel.

Overall, I liked the book enough to read other works by Geraldine Brooks. I would probably mention this book to friends that are historical fiction fans.

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