Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Cradle

Interesting little muse and character study coupled with a little mystery and chase around the Midwest.

The Cradle, a first novel by Patric Somerville, was a satisfying little morsel during a really rainy St. Louis week. The book has several little vignettes centered around a Civil War cradle that the protagonist's wife is sure will make everything complete. The completeness comes not in wood but in what life crafted for them in the end.

I read this almost in one sitting, drawn in by his use of multiple stories that interconnected. It subtly reminded me that we truly are only six degrees separated from other people. One does not experience their story without the paragraphs of this life touching the sentences of another's life.

Matt, in the end, did not bring home what sent him driving through rain and snow and meeting weird characters that populate any family. He ended up with something more and yet, I closed the book longing to know what happened to the other people who invaded my thoughts.

This little novel talked about children, in more ways than a children's novel ever could. It reminded me that every thing we do intersects and has implications for the future. We are all left wondering "why" and "what if" and "how about" at some point in our life. Decisions we make are not in a vacuum, they do affect lives and lives and lives.

The Cradle was more than a quest to find something to put a new baby to sleep, it was a quest to find the missing answers for a son put up for adoption, written during one war, given up during a previous generation's war. It was also the story of how the Boomers affected the lives of the Millennials even when they were still figuring out which way to go.

We can try to reinvent ourselves and rewrite the chapters of our story, but in the end, we are still left trying to answer the question of "why" and "what happened" and "which way to go" and "how do I do that."

I read this book thinking about choices I made in my previous years, my teenage and young twenties. Decisions that affect me now, even as I prepare to be a Me'Me' to my son's incubating children. There is a part of me that longs to have something from my infancy to pass on to this next generation, much like Matt wanted to give to his wife Marissa. Yet, what we pass on is often not concrete but fluid, living, and hopeful, just like the story left me.

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