Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks is a different kind of historical fiction that was just recently published. With the title of the book you would think the book would be about Caleb. However, the narrator of the story is Bethia, a girl. I didn't learn as much about Caleb as I would've liked. I didn't mind reading about Bethia, but I think a book from Caleb's perspective would be really awesome. I just feel Brooks missed a really great opportunity.
NPR made this short and concise statement about the book: "Set in the 17th century on Martha's Vineyard, a new novel from Geraldine Brooks tells the tale of a Puritan family — and one daughter's relationship with the son of a Wampanoag chieftain who would become the first Native American to graduate from Harvard." However, if you would like to read a bit more about this book check out the following link to the author's website. Brooks goes into much more detail and description of the book.
I did feel that this book was a great fall book. I'm not sure if it was because the setting is 17th century Massachusetts and there was a lot of pilgrim/indian relationships discussed. I guess it just reminds me of the First Thanksgiving we are taught about in elementary school. Either way, this was a type of book, 17th century Puritan family historical fiction, that I had never read before. Plus it was an adult fiction book and that is not always my first choice. However, I feel it is important to go out of your comfort zone every now and again. This book was definitely out of my comfort zone.
Overall I felt the book was just okay. I didn't love it, and I had to push myself through it at several points. I did feel that it dragged a bit. There were some surprising moments, refreshing moments, and sad moments; it was good to have a little variety in a book that was a tad slow at times.
One thing I really like about historical fiction books is that you learn something. I always preached to my students that historical fictions were so cool b/c you learn something and it is still a fun story. For younger kids, the Dear America series is really great historical fiction books that both boys and girls love. Definitely check them out if you are interested in that genre, or interested in pushing your kids and their reading a little bit.
While reading this book I learned a lot about the Puritan life and their family/society culture. I also learned about the various types of Indian relationships that existed. There were very good and profitable relationships between the English and the Indians (I would've been a fan of this), and there were very bad and sad relationships between the two involving not nice things. What I didn't know, but I probably should've, is that the Puritans often preached to the Indians and tried to convert them to Christianity.
While reading, I appreciated Bethia's, the narrator, growth in accepting all different types of people and seeing the good in everyone. She was portrayed as a strong woman and an independent thinker but still had the strong Puritan beliefs. It was an interesting combination to me, but it was refreshing to see that kind of a woman back then.
All in all, read this book for a good Thanksgiving read. It is okay, and you might really enjoy it if 17th century Puritan historical fiction books are your cup of tea.
As always, let me know your thoughts.