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A stunning debut novel - unexpected, tautly written, suspenseful - that touches on some of the most profound questions we have about war as it tells us a haunting story of a single mother, and her son, a member of the US Special Operations Forces.
Eleven Days is, at its heart, the story of a mother and a son. It begins in May 2011: Sara's son Jason has been missing for nine days in the aftermath of a special operations forces mission. Out of devotion to him, Sara - smart, modest, tough-minded - has made herself knowledgeable about things military, but she knows nothing more about her son's disappearance than the press corps camped out in her driveway.
But this is also the story of the current generation of special operations forces and what drives them. Jason is brought up by his mother in a small town in Pennsylvania away from the complications of Washington where Sarah met his father, a man who claimed to have been a writer but who died, according to 'insiders,' helping to make the country safer. Jason is an extraordinary boy who decides, on 9/11, to forego his mother's ambitions for Harvard in favour of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, after which he enters into the toughest military training in the world: for the U.S. Naval Special Warfare's Navy SEAL Teams. Through letters Jason wrote his mother while training, we see him becoming a strong, compassionate leader. But his fate will be determined by events that fall outside the sphere of his training, and far outside the strong embrace of his mother's love.
The novel weaves together years of Jason's training with agonising days in the life of Sara as she waits for news of him. The book considers a classic question: why do nations send sons to wars and how can mothers bear it? Page-turning and haunting, this is an astonishing debut which questions the very nature of sacrifice and love.
About the Author
Lea Carpenter graduated from Princeton and has an MBA from Harvard. She was Founding Editor for Francis Ford Coppola's literary magazine, Zoetrope as well as Deputy Publisher of The Paris Review until 2005. She lives in New York with her husband and their two sons where she produces programming for the New York Public Library. This is her first novel.