Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks
I was first introduced to Geraldine Brooks during an excellent course on historical novels. When our class decided to have a book club, to keep the momentum and fun going, this book was the first one we chose.

The titular Caleb is a Manitouwak native American who lives on what is now known as Martha's Vineyard. He befriends a Puritan girl, Bethia, who narrates the story of Caleb's education, in which the young man eventually rises to become the first native American graduate of Harvard. Yes, Caleb was a real person.

The book is an excellent examination of cultural attitudes amongst natives and settlers, as well as daily life and educational processes. Bethia's voice as a narrator is interesting and engaging; she's the sort of person whom I would love to have sitting next to me and telling stories about daily life.

Brooks' research is impeccable; the end papers of the book, for example, are an image of one of her primary sources -- the one extant piece of Caleb's writing. It's a Latin translation exercise, with his signature at the bottom.

Those who are interested in the very early colonial period in the US are sure to enjoy this book.