Yes, another book recommendation already. I seem to be on a roll. This time it's "Caleb's Crossing", by Geraldine Brooks. I really like her other books, including Year of Wonders , People of the Book, and especially March.
The author takes a few historical facts and builds a fascinating and beautiful story to relay them to us. This inspiration starts with Caleb Cheeshahteaumauck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. He lived on the island now known as Martha's Vineyard, was tutored by an English family, and went on to graduate Harvard in 1665. Brooks tells the story through the eyes of a fictional Bethia Mayfield, the daughter of a Calvinist minister. It takes place in the late 1600s, first on the island, and then later in Cambridge at Harvard College. Bethia befriends Caleb as a child, then watches as her father takes him on as a student, helping him achieve enrollment at Harvard.
It's a beautiful story, and I am particularly drawn to stories that draw on history from this area. My own town is even mentioned in the book, and I find it intriguing to be transported to a different time, especially in places that are familiar to me. Brooks is a wonderful writer, and I really enjoyed listening to Bethia's story.
Here's a link to the NY Times Book Review.