Patrick Somerville (Adult Fiction)
It’s 1997. Matt and Marissa Bishop are expecting their first child. In her eighth month of pregnancy, Marissa suddenly asks Matt to find her something. Not a certain brand of pickles or obscure flavor of ice cream, but a cradle. Her cradle. The one that she used when she was a baby and that was stolen from her home many years ago. Flash forward ten years and Renee Owen, a former children’s author, is preparing to send her son off to serve in the military in Iraq. She counts down the days to his departure as she counts the white notecards on her bulletin board—cards that represent a book of poetry that longs for completion. Both Matt and Renee are on a path where they will discover that secrets are powerful things and have the ability to either rip a family apart or make the shared fabric even stronger.
I’ve found that when books have two central characters with alternating story lines, there is always one that stands apart and tends to be more interesting and compelling. The Cradle is no exception. We follow the individual stories of Matt and Renee and from early on, Matt’s story is definitively the deeper and more developed of the two (out of fourteen chapters in the book, Matt is featured in ten). Renee’s inclusion in the book seemed superfluous and the parts featuring her were a needless drag on the story’s pace. Deciding to give Renee equal billing (or close to it) in this story was unfortunate. Her inclusion didn’t add much to the story line and her contribution was more of a weak supporting character rather than a central, standalone figure.
The Cradle is clearly Matt’s story and the struggles he faces when dealing with his past while trying to understand his future. Throughout the book, Matt is all about what matters. Family matters. Things matter. His quest for his wife’s childhood heirloom not only puts him in direct contact with several strange and unforgettable people, but it also allows him the opportunity to begin realizing what a family is and what having a family really means. And in the end, to Matt, those are the things that matter most.
* Book cover image attributed to http://www.amazon.com