The Cradle by Patrick Somerville
I was surprised to find, when I began reading “The Cradle,” that it was not just one story, but two. The first story, the one I was expecting, is about one man’s quest to make his pregnant wife happy. Matt and Marissa are just weeks away from having their first child when Marissa decides she absolutely MUST have the cradle she herself used as a baby, the one that Marissa’s mother took with her when she left their family. Matt agrees to do what he can to track down Marissa’s mother’s path and find the cradle. I was not expecting Renee’s story. Renee is a woman with a complicated past and a secret, all of which is being brought up for her as her son enlists in the Army.
The stories were initially so far apart (other than their physical proximity of Wisconsin and Illinois), that I knew they must actually interconnect in some way, not simply be thematically similar. By the time I learned Renee’s secret I knew how it was that the stories must interconnect, but I still waited to see how exactly Somerville would piece them together and bring the knowledge of their interconnectedness to the characters. The ending is somewhat abrupt, but this doesn’t take away from how lovely it (and the whole book) was.
This is a rather short, rather quick read, but Somerville packs a lot into it. I would definitely recommend this touching but not cheesy or corny book about family.
As an aside, Marissa quite annoyed me in the beginning, but now I wonder how much she knew or suspected all along.