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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Previously Handled Copy with Signs of Wear. Interior with Notes, Markings and Highlights. Still a Good Reading Copy. Book is slightly
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Eleven Days (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – March 11, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A woman falls into the national spotlight when her Navy SEAL son goes missing during a highly classified operation in Carpenter's debut novel. Sara, an art student who landed a secretarial job in D.C, and David, a mysterious government official 30 years her senior, find themselves expecting a child during a complex love affair. Sara elects to keep the baby—naming him Jason—and becomes a single mother when David dies in the Middle East of undisclosed causes. She raises Jason with help from various "godparents", David's friends and coworkers who predispose the naturally brilliant child to the military at the youngest of ages. After the September 11th attacks, Jason's decides to attend the Naval Academy , marking the beginning of a sacrificial quest that, after nine years, he plans to end after one more mission—the mission in which he disappears. The novel profiles the first eleven days of Sara's grief journey, and is filled with characters who exist on the edge of emotion. With poignant prose and an impeccably structured narrative, Carpenter's novel is the sweet pitch before the violin screeches; the concluding state of reverence for a world we can't control and a song for the war in Afghanistan that provides comfort without reason. (June) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Tension builds in Carpenter’s spare debut as single mother Sara awaits news of Jason, her Navy SEAL son, missing in action on a top-secret mission. Their story is reduced to very nearly its barest bones, told mainly via Jason’s letters home and his and Sara’s reminiscences. Carpenter succeeds in making Sara an Everymother as she tries to reckon how her bookish, poetry-loving son could choose a career path that puts him in mortal danger with every overseas tour. She eventually reasons that she “had not lost a son on 9/11; she lost him later to something she could not provide at home.” But it is clear that what she and Jason’s deceased father each did give their son—whose teammates nicknamed him Priest—prepared him for nothing less than personal greatness, the kind of personal greatness that makes the best Navy SEAL. Subtle clues and a couple of plot twists sustain the story’s tautness until its emotive climax. --Donna Chavez --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307951030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307951038
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,049,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James H. Dean on November 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I rarely give a book five stars however if there were a sixth star available, I would have used it.
This is the gripping and tender story of love between a mother and her son but it is so much more than that. Being a Grandmother to a "SWICK" (adjunct of the Seals) warrior, I especially appreciated insights into their training, the stages they must endure before they graduate to the second and third and perhaps final phase of their training. My interest was especially piqued when I was let in on information that was considered secret and not even shared with Grandma. There are a couple surprises and twists in the novel which made for interesting reading but I don't want to spoil it so will not go further on these. The author did a magnificent job of letting us look into the minds of the warrior, his mother, his father, his trainers, his superior officers and even into the mind of one of his "godfathers" by alternating the narrative from past to present. It was tough for me to read this but when our Grandson made the decision to become a Special Warfare Combat warrior, I promised I would support him in every way possible. I felt the need to know as much of his work as possible and this book clearly was the best at providing a clear and uncomplicated narrative of much that these brave souls do when on missions, for example. This is not a story of a hero who speaks five languages, who can wipe out five men using his hands, who leaps tall buildings in a single bound and who is indestructible. This is the story of a young man who felt called to serve his country and the impact of his decision on all he knew and loved. Mazel tov Lea Carpenter!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Eleven Days" is one of the most clever, thought about & sensitive novels I have come across : both from the understated physical format & its rich content.

The unassuming, color-less cover ( white numerical crayon marks, simple black block letters & the even more humble paper bag paper ) represents modern plainness. In contrast, the use of unevenly cut, thick pages points more to the past, it has more of a history.

Once the book has been opened, a ( to the reader ) anonymous dedication is followed by a modern interpretation of Achilles' shield. And then the author is up & "running", developing her tale. Actually it is Sara, the protagonist, who goes for a run. She is wearing a HAT ( not a cap ) & she has bright RED shoelaces, a gift from her son. These details are seductive. Especially the bright red shoelaces. Up to this point there has not been an introduction of color at all. I kept returning to the vivid image while reading the novel. By the time I read Jason's letter to Sara I felt that I finally understood. The colorful shoelaces were meant to symbolize the strong bond, bloodlines, between mother & son.

But there is much more to my treasure hunt.
While reading the story an intricately patterned "tapestry" began to unfold. "Eleven Days" bears undeniable traces of the Judaeo-Christian narrative, of medieval Marian Iconography, of Greek mythology & present day East vs West conflicts & challenges. Age old beliefs, idealism & cruelties across time & space all intertwined.

There is the youthful, basically chaste "Mommy" Sara. The name is of Hebrew, Arab origin & allegedly has the meaning of "princess", "pure" or "excellent".
The unwed, devoted mother lives in a farmhouse ( without a stable ) in a small American East coast town.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have been warily looking forward to this book - wary because it's gotten a lot of advance praise, and the last time I bought into that, I was disappointed. But, the fact that it earned that pre-publication attention made me await it all the same.

It's one of the best close-up looks into what makes a military member 'tick' that I've ever read. The motivations, the dreams, the professionalism mixed with youth and cynicism all feels very real. While author Lea Carpenter has chosen the Navy SEALs as her subject matter, with a young officer the main character, I think you could fill that in with most any branch, of most any rank, and it still rings true across the board. "Jason," the SEAL in question, seems to fairly represent the ideals and life that these special operations soldiers have chosen - not in a melodramatic, overwrought way like many self-serving biographies, but in the much quieter way of real life. I'm no SEAL, but as a military veteran, I feel like on my best days this was sort of what we were all going for - most of us didn't live up to it, but we liked to think we were trying.

It's no mistake that Carpenter is not a veteran herself (though I think her father is a retired Navy captain). That distance gives the edge of objectivity lacking in a lot of veteran-written narratives. Even the recent vet-written collection "Fire and Forget," which I also really liked, is often very self-aware, not always in a good way. Without that crutch of her own memory to draw from, Carpenter relied on interviews, research and readers to help her get the story right - she does a lot of thanking in her acknowledgements, and that effort at getting it right comes through...at least for me.
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