Back Bay Books
When I first saw this book and read the synopsis, I was not impressed. What’s the big deal? A young couple is expecting and are on a search for a family cradle. Yawn. But then I kept reading review after review that spoke highly of The Cradle, so when I saw it at the library, I took a chance. To tell the truth, it is a slim book, so I figured if I really wasn’t bowled over by it, it would be over quickly.
Marissa and Matt are a young couple with a baby coming soon. They’ve both come from a sad background. Matt is an orphan who has been in and out of children’s and foster homes. He doesn’t know his biological parents at all, whereas Marissa is close to her father but was abandoned by her mother years ago. Because of her tenuous relationship with her mother, Marissa is clinging to every aspect of family she can, which is why she requests for Matt to go out searching for an old family cradle, supposedly from the Civil War era. Matt is incredulous that his wife is sending him out on a wild goose chase looking for a cradle, but as most husbands realize, you have to choose your battles.
While he’s out searching for the elusive cradle, Matt makes all kinds of discoveries about Marrissa’s mother and the people she’s been involved with since she left. Meanwhile, the reader is given some insight into Matt’s own mother, although it doesn’t tie into Marissa and Matt’s story until much later.
I appreciated where Sommerville was going with The Cradle. It was a great exploration of family ties and how people are affected by circumstances within their own family. The way Marissa was abandoned by her own mother was appalling. She seemed much more affected by her mother’s betrayal than Matt did by his own mother’s betrayal. I suppose maybe a good deal of this had to do with the fact that Marissa knew her mother abandoned her, whereas Matt did not know what type of circumstances made his mother give him up.
I am not sure how I feel about The Cradle over all. I think the themes were worthwhile but I wasn’t blown away. It was an interesting story that I am not sure I will remember a month from now.