Wednesday, February 6, 2013

True and False

When reading books by Geraldine Brooks, I have learned that there is always more to the story.  When I read People of the Book, I didn't know that the Sarajevo Hagaddah was a real thing.  I read all the way through March wondering why the cheesy family named their children after the girls in Little Women, only to read the afterward and find out that March was intended to be about the Little Women  family, but focused on the father.  So when I started listening to Caleb's Crossing on audio book, I wondered what the trick was. 

Caleb's Crossing is the story of a white girl, Bethia, and a Native American Boy, Caleb, in the late 1600s.  Caleb and Bethia both grow up on Martha's Vineyard, which was called something different at the time.   Bethia's father is a minister who is interested in converting the Native Americans to Christianity.  He attempts to do this by teaching some of the younger boys, as he would teach his own son.  Soon two Native American boys and Bethia's brother are bound for the Harvard College, as it was then known.  It was interesting that Harvard accepted Native Americans that long ago. Apparently after the Indian War of 1675-1677, known as "King Philip's War", they were no longer permitted.

About two-thirds of the way through the story, I looked at the afterward, keeping in mind that when I finished reading March I wished that I had read the afterward first.  This time though, I shouldn't have.  There was a big spoiler there, that I wish I hadn't read.  When I came to the end of the audio book, there was no mention of an afterward, which was disappointing.  In true Brooks style, the afterward reveals which characters were real, and which she created.  She also tells which plot twists really happened, which was a big surprise, because it turned out that the most outrageous parts of the story were based in fact. 

I didn't like Caleb's Crossing as much as I liked the other Brooks books.  It's probably just the stilted language of the time, but I was glad that I was listening to the book, rather than trying to read it.  I would think that a person who is really interested in the history of Martha's Vineyard or the history of Harvard might like this more than I did.  Brooks says in the blurb about the author on the dust cover that she lives on Martha's Vineyard, which might explain why she chose to tell this story.

That's one more down for the Off the Shelf Challenge!

Next up on CD:  Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Still Reading:  Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters

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