As much as I love books for young readers, I also appreciate time in the summer to read a few of the adult books that are precariously stacked on my nightstand. This summer, I began with Eleven Days, the debut novel by Lea Carpenter. To be honest, it moved to the top of the pile after I read Michiko Kakutani’s glowing review. If you are a regular reader of the New York Times, you know that Kakutani can be a harsh judge. Even when the subject of the book is not especially interesting, I always appreciate Kakutani’s smart analysis, and when she likes something, two two thoughts go through my mind: 1. that author is going to have a good day – and 2. I should read the book.
This morning, during a statement-making rainstorm, I finished Carpenter’s powerful and beautiful novel. The heavy rain provided a fitting backdrop to a novel about Jason, a young man who goes missing during a Special Operation Forces secret mission, and his mother, Sara. The story alternates between both Sara and Jason’s points of view and goes back in time to describe the unfathomably demanding training required to be a Navy SEAL. Most of all, though, this compelling novel focuses on Sara’s love for her son and the process of coming to terms with his decisions.
It’s also a commentary on war. The novel forces the reader to consider the complexity of our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and the men and women who voluntarily put their lives on the line for our country.
Here’s a link to Kakutani’s review: