Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter

Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter
Carpenter deftly weaves the past and the present in this debut novel about a single mother waiting to hear news about her son, a Navy Seal who has been reported missing after a mission. Sara, the single mother, waits at home, occasionally working and running, trying to get through the days as she waits to hear news about Jason, her son that has been missing for nine days already. As she goes about her day, little things cause her to go on tangents, about raising Jason, about his father, about her perceptions of those in special operation warfare. The past and the present are intermingled with descriptions of Jason’s training, experiences, and decision process all the way up to the mission where he went missing.

There are naturally elements of the Seal training and an interesting exploration of the mentality of those that choose that training and that life. Yet, these descriptions do not come off as proud or as militaristic, but more as a mother describing a trying line of work that her son has chosen.  But is it not just a surface skimming, Carpenter digs deep into the lives and the lore of Special Forces and into the politicians that are behind them.

Not only is Eleven Days one of the best debut novels that I have read, I would argue that it is one of the best literary fiction novels I have read. Carpenter’s elegant, simple style belies the complexity of scholarship, experience, and drama of the subject matter. I strongly recommend this book to anyone.

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