Marissa is expecting her first child and fixated on securing the same cradle she was once rocked in for her own baby. But her mother, Caroline, disappeared when Marissa was a teenager, and the treasured cradle mysteriously vanished shortly thereafter. Marissa's husband, Matthew, kindly agrees to try to track down the cradle, which naturally means finding Caroline as well.
In another family, Adam has just joined the Marines and is off to Iraq. His mother, Renee, is terrified of losing him, and furious at both Adam for enlisting and her husband for being so mild-mannered about it all. To further complicate matters, Renee is troubled by the resurfacing of secrets she buried long ago: the memory of her first love, killed in Vietnam, and the son she gave up at birth.
Matt's search for the cradle takes him through the Midwest, and provides an introduction to a host of oddball characters who've been part of Caroline's life in the intervening years. When he finds the cradle, he also finds an unloved little boy, who will one day reunite a family adrift. A lovely debut novel, The Cradle is an astonishingly spare tale of feeling lost in the world, and the simple, momentous acts of love that bring people home. (Summer 2009 Selection)