As part of our Best Books of 2011 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
Geraldine Brooks has a genius for finding history’s most fascinating stories. In Caleb’s Crossing, she turns to the early days of American history to craft an intensely smart and vibrant story. Her hero, Caleb, was the first Native American to graduate from Harvard—in the 1660s. Brooks portrays him through the eyes of Bethia, a Puritan minister’s daughter who strikes up an unlikely childhood friendship with Caleb that their society makes it difficult to sustain. Moving and memorable, this is a tale of crossing boundaries and quiet strength.