Geraldine Brooks is the author of three novels, the Pulitzer Prize-winning March and the bestsellers People of the Book and Year of Wonders. She has also written the acclaimed non-fiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Brooks (for March) delivers a splendid historical inspired by Caleb Cheeshahteaumauck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. Brooks brings the 1660s to life with evocative period detail, intriguing characters, and a compelling story narrated by Bethia Mayfield, the outspoken daughter of a Calvinist preacher. While exploring the island now known as Martha's Vineyard, Bethia meets Caleb, a Wampanoag native to the island, and they become close, clandestine friends. After Caleb loses most of his family to smallpox, he begins to study under the tutelage of Bethia's father. Since Bethia isn't allowed to pursue education herself, she eavesdrops on Caleb's and her own brother's lessons. Caleb is a gifted scholar who eventually travels, along with Bethia's brother, to Cambridge to continue his education. Bethia tags along and her descriptions of 17th-century Cambridge and Harvard are as entertaining as they are enlightening (Harvard was founded by Puritans to educate the "English and Indian youth of this country," for instance). With Harvard expected to graduate a second Martha's Vineyard Wampanoag Indian this year, almost three and a half centuries after Caleb, the novel's publication is particularly timely. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Caleb, the first Native American graduate of Harvard College (class of 1665), struggles to find his place in diametrically opposed cultures. His story is dramatically narrated by the daughter of a Calvinist minister, who is also fighting puritanical strictures. (LJ 3/15/11) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.