James Patterson “Cradle and All”
I’m not normally a big James Patterson fan (although the customers in the bookstore where I work can’t get enough of him). I just never quite got into the Alex Cross crime detective novels. I glanced at his “Middle School” series, aimed for Young Adults, and didn’t find them at all amusing. However, the cover of his newest release, Cradle and All, caught my eye. A quick glance at the plot description sold me. I immediately purchased a copy and set about reading it during an eight-hour shift at the bookstore. I finished the little bit that was left the following morning.
This is NOT your typical James Patterson novel. It is a pure, true thriller, in every sense of the word!
The premise is this: two teenage girls, unknown to each other and living thousands of miles apart, find themselves pregnant. Not so unusual, except for the fact that they’re both virgins. Kathleen is a beautiful girl, living a life of wealth and privilege in Providence, Rhode Island. The other pregnant virgin, Colleen, lives in a small village in Ireland, where she barely scrapes by and cares for her dying mother.
After medical doctors confirm that both girls are, in fact, virgins, the Vatican gets involved. They are convinced that one of the girls will give birth to the Son of God, while the other will bear the spawn of Satan. All signs point to the End Times: a new strain of Polio is killing children in Boston and Los Angeles. There is a famine in Jordan. Civil War rages in the Middle East. A drug-resistant AIDS epidemic breaks out in other countries.
Ann Fitzgerald is a former nun, now a Private Eye, called upon by a Cardinal from the Archdiocese of Boston to meet both of the girls and investigate their claims. At age 24, Ann is a virgin herself. An interesting subplot involves Ann and the sidekick she is assigned: a handsome preacher named Justin, who she came close to having an affair with years ago. Needless to say, they still have unresolved feelings for one another.
The way the two pregnant teen virgins are treated could not be more different. The American media falls in love with Kathleen. They see her as a martyr, believing that her baby will save humanity. The media will not leave her alone. Conversely, the Irish church keeps Colleen’s pregnancy a secret from the world. The villagers, know, however, and they don’t believe that she is an innocent virgin. They are merciless in their treatment of Colleen, calling her hurtful names, shaming her with vulgar graffiti, even physically assaulting her at one point.
Your mind will ping-pong back and forth, as the good-versus-evil odds sway from Kathleen to Colleen and back again, until…
Two VERY big plot twists happen when both girls go into labor. Brace yourself for a couple of shocking revelations!
The final surprise occurs in the aftermath of the eventful births. All I’ll say is it has to do with the heroine, Ann. The incident leads to the book’s chilling epilogue.
Oh, BTW, I guess the bloody baby carriage cover was “too much” for some booksellers, so the publisher released this kinder, gentler version.
I think this is my favorite book of 2016 so far!!!