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Eleven Days (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – March 11, 2014
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a beautifully written, amazing story, that will touch your heart.Published 11 days ago by mere
From the descriptions and the endorsements I was expecting something quite special from this book, but I'm afraid I didn't really get on with it. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Sid Nuncius
Just finished for the second time. Captivated by the mother-son bond and love story. What eloquence and courage. I learned so much.Published 13 months ago by mary adams
This powerful novel packs in a lot in a few pages. The 11 days in question are the harrowing period in which a single mother of an only child waits to find out whether her soldier... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Meg Cox
This is a thought-provoking novel on what it means to be a member of the special forces, told from the perspective of Sara, a mother of a Navy Seal who has been missing in action... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Monica J. Kern
I won't rehash the plot, because if you've made it this far into the book's page, you are likely already familiar with the story. Instead, I'll focus on Carpenter's writing. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Avid Reader
Gripping story of the details of the men who serve as Special Ops warriors set against a backdrop of the intense love of a single mother for her only child. Worth every word!Published 22 months ago by evsmama
The best thing I can say about this is that I felt like time dragged on while reading it, much like the mother felt time stretching out as she waited on news about... Read more
Lea Carpenter debuts in a novel of unexpected subject and depth. She writes of a mother-son relationship, close and chipper, everything is fine. Until . .. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Free2Read