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Matt enjoys the missions his pregnant wife, Marissa, sends him on until she remembers the cradle. It's a family heirloom, and she must have it. But Marissa does not know its whereabouts, because her mother disappeared when Marissa was a little girl. Still, Marissa expects Matt to take time off from his factory job and search for the cradle. This is a quest destined to inflame Matt's long-banked anger over his own painful childhood as a neglected and abused foster child. Matt struggles with searing memories while zigzagging across the Midwest, negotiating fairy-tale-strange encounters with deranged and dangerous individuals. Somerville, evincing an impressive command of language, psychology, and structure for a first-time novelist, interweaves Matt's unsettling saga with the trials and tribulations of Renee, a famous children's author. Her knotty tale takes place 10 years later, as her son ships out to Iraq. With highly charged lyricism and dramatic concision, Somerville gracefully illuminates what children need, all that war demands, and how amends are made and sorrows are woven into the intricate tapestry of life.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2009 Booklist
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It's 1997, and 25-year-old Marissa Bishop could be a bit crazy, or perhaps it's just pregnancy that makes her send her adoring husband, Matt, on an impossible quest: find her own childhood cradle, which was removed from her home ten years earlier when her mother left Marissa and her dad. To appease the woman he loves, Matt leaves their Wisconsin home to traverse the Midwest on a journey that might leave the geographically challenged running for an atlas. In 2008 Chicago, children's book author and sometime poet Renee Owen is dealing with her 19-year-old son's enlistment in the military, with the likelihood of his shipping out to Iraq. The stories alternate chapters and eventually come together in this satisfyingly sweet tale of love, commitment, and self-discovery. First novelist Somerville keeps us engaged in this slim novel from the outset. Though readers might guess the connections, they will want to see how the author provides the perfect denouement. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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An elusive heirloom cradle symbolizes childhood's pains and possibilities in Somerville's spare, elegant first novel (after a story collection, Trouble). Marissa, pregnant with her first child, becomes obsessed with tracking down the antique cradle her mother took when she abandoned the family a decade earlier. Marissa's husband, Matt, is sure he's been dispatched on a fool's errand, but his journey soon connects him to Marissa's family and his own history of abandonment, neglect and abuse amid a string of foster homes and orphanages. Matt's quest through four states is interwoven with another drama that takes place 11 years later, in 2008, in which poet and children's author Renee Owen is haunted by memories of war and a lost love as she prepares to send her son off to fight in Iraq. Again, long-buried secrets come to the surface, one of which poignantly links the two story lines. Though the connection will not shock, Somerville's themes of a broader sense of interconnectivity and the resultant miracles of everyday existence retain their strength and affirm the value of forming and keeping families. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved