Overall I really liked this book. I do think the title was a bit misleading though. While Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk is a significant element of the book, the story really belongs to Bethia Mayfield. I found her and her experiences as a woman on Martha's Vineyard and the mainland in the mid-1600s very interesting. Not to go all English teacher on ya, but I always taught my students that a book that is truly "good" (And yes I know that "good" is all a matter of subjectivity.) will comment on religion, politics, economics, and society. This book covers them all. Having read Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower, (which I recommend if you want a detailed history of the time and historical figures) which discusses the Pilgrims and King Philip's War, which is touched on in this book, I felt well prepared for the historical elements Brooks was covering. Without a background in the time period, I would have like a bit more history mixed with my fiction. But Brooks was attempting to tell the story of a man about whom very little is known. Her fiction therefore is a really comprehensive look at the life of a teen girl and the harsh reality of her life and that of native peoples in the region.
You may notice I keep tempering any criticism with praise because I really have very little to criticize about the novel. I have read both March (which won a Pulitzer) and People of the Book by Brooks and will continue to read her work as long as she keeps writing it. Brooks approaches historical fiction the way it should be done...she takes real historical events and people then gives them life with voices and personality. It is one of the best ways to touch history without doing the research. The bonus is she dreams up the people and conversations and day to day events to give shape to the greater historical significances that sometimes obscure the real people.