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Eleven Days

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  776 ratings  ·  139 reviews
When the story opens on May 11, 2011, Sara’s son, Jason, has been missing for nine days from a Special Operations Forces mission on the same night as the Bin Laden raid. Smart, young, and bohemian, Sara had dreams of an Ivy League university for Jason that were not out of reach, followed by a job on the Hill where there were connections through his father. The events of 9/ ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 18th 2013 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  776 ratings  ·  139 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jason is a member of the Special Operations
Force in the Navy Seals. He’s missing....
( right after a fictional raid on the same night that Osama Bin Ladin was killed).
His mother, Sara, is ...’crazy-worried’ of his whereabouts.

This is a very intimate story. Not at ‘all’ boring.
While Sara is waiting to get word about her son... (I was anxious to know how things would turn out) ....
we learn a lot about Jason through Sara....
.....Harvard strong possibility -
humble - many gifts - a strong athletic g
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The book blurb promised a “haunting story of a single mother, and her Navy SEAL son.” Probably maudlin and jingoistic, I thought. And I took a pass…until friends urged me to give it a try. Don’t make the same mistake I nearly did. This is a fantastic book without a false note. It’s intelligently written, non-manipulative, and, in certain places, really heart rendering. And it has very much transformed my perception of Navy SEALS…a perception that recognized their heroism without fully understand ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The events of 9/11 led to a whole new generation of voluntarily enlisted soldiers, those who wanted to serve their country. Sara’s son, Jason, who is a literature/poetry lover with eight well-connected godfathers, seemed to be Harvard bound. But after 9/11 happened during his senior year of high school, he decided he wanted to become a Navy SEAL. His father, who he last saw when he was 8 years-old, and who was reported dead years ago, was a CIA-type journalist who was 30 years older than Sara (t ...more
Wayland Smith
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I was expecting something a bit different when I read some of the reviews. Not that I was disappointed or didn't like it, but it wasn't what I had thought it would be. It's hard to write a book about SEALs, make it have virtually no action, but still be interesting. Carpenter did that.

The book is about Sara, a single mother with Washington connections, and Jason, her son, who grows up and enlists after 9/11. It switches view points and jumps in time. Sara had an affair with a man who has high l
Katey Schultz
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
The lack of complex characters who need things from each other (other than the mother and son), the ill-explained and over-done allegiance that the protagonist has for the father of her child (a man who seemed to impress everyone, though whom the readers never really get to see in action and therefore have to decide for themselves; a man who, quite honestly, fits the counterpoint stereotype of the protagonist he impregnated), the seemingly blatant disregard for narrating the present moment, and ...more
Ron Charles
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war-fiction
Even before they stormed the secret compound in Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, the Navy SEALs were men of legend. Their punishing training and especially their death-defying missions elevate them to the status of godlike warriors at a time when our nation prefers to rain down lethal force by joystick. Not surprisingly, amid the thousands of titles inspired by 9/11 and its aftermath, we need many shelves just for the books about Special Ops men — from the dramatic histories and CIA- ...more
Mary Lins
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: complete
I had initially avoided, "Eleven Days" the debut novel by Lea Carpenter, because I was afraid it would hit "too close to home" as I have two close family members who are serving currently active duty in the Navy. I was urged to read it by fellow reading friends and I'm glad I did, even though it was difficult at times.(I'm not going to review the plot as others have done so well.)

Carpenter has clearly researched the story thoroughly and so we are given what I assume is an honest look into the cl
Sep 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Worships the military viewpoint, though ... I mean worships
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lea Carpenter has crafted a masterpiece. Her precise language depicts angst, love and manages to parse military jargon. Sara is a young mother whose son's nickname is Priest. I simply could not put this one down.
Bonnie Brody
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter is a beautiful, poignant, and powerful novel. I could not put it down once I started reading it. It held me in its grip like a vice and I lost a night's sleep while reading it. It is that good.

The story is primarily about a single mother named Sara who has raised her son Jason with unconditional love and respect. Jason's father, David, left Sara early on. What David did for a living is somewhat vague. He had connections to the CIA and also to journalism. He was often
Gloria ~ mzglorybe
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This isn't your typical action novel about Special Forces. It is more a thoughtful exploration of the things that motivate individuals to make sacrifices for other people, or for the causes that they believe in. It also helps us to understand what brought them to the point of wanting to do so. The training of a SEAL is vividly described, but not over-done, thankfully, as this could have then read as a text-book as opposed to an insightful novel. I learned a lot that I didn’t know about the inten ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is not a book that will be easy to review. One of the strongest things I can say about it is that it took a disproportionate time to read given its relatively low page count. The reason for that: the reader doesn't want to miss anything the author is saying about the couple at the center of this searing story. A mother. Her son. Two exceptional people whose lives are forever changed by world events. Jason is a Navy SEAL, an almost ideal person but one with a real sense of heart and purpose. ...more
Gayla Bassham
Eleven Days, Lea Carpenter I find it so difficult to say interesting things about books that I love. Encomiums tend to be a bit dull, and also ring a bit hollow.
So what can I say about this book? It was, to me, very nearly perfect. Beautifully written--not in a showy way, but very elegant. Every word rang true. It is a page-turner, almost a thriller, but it is also, unexpectedly, a novel of ideas. Ideas about war and parenting and love. Sara and Jason felt real to me. I can quibble with some mi
Feb 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked it, but there were a lot of things about it that bugged me. Like the stilted dialogue -- why is she too good for question marks? So distracting! I liked that it was about a mother-son relationship, but I thought the relationship itself was pretty flat, not especially nuanced, and kinda hokey. In fact, the flatness of the main relationship made me wonder whether what seemed thoughtful and nuanced about the Spec Ops/military/warrior stuff wasn't just as flat to people who have some experie ...more
Brett Judith
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Didn’t think I’d like this book based on subject matter—war, soldiers, special ops. But it’s deeper than that, an elegant and powerful mother/son story. Fell in love with Lea’s story in A Public Space (26, “The Experience of Being Alive and Having to Breath”, go read it!), a smart and meditative critique of the contemporary art scene. This is, obviously, different. But her writing is smooth and tight, even with some structural flaws and clichés. (The books gets epistolary at some points, and whi ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
This book review is dedicated to Billy and Kyle, two beautiful HPA men who lost their lives as members of the teams described in this book.
My father was the bravest man I know, and he proved that by never talking about bravery. It was assumed with him as it was with my mother. At the beginning of his life, before he was married, he chose to be among the last up in the Bell, staying on the bottom of the sea until he was hoisted with the rubber breathing hose, the cable having parted on the Bell's
Christina Rochester
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Eleven Days is a fantastic debut novel; all about the love a mother feels for her son, the love that son feels for his country and what happens when their worlds are torn apart. Set in 2011, Eleven Days opens in the May, when Sara’s son Jason has been missing in action for nine days. She is desperate for answers, but the government knows just as little as she does, and when Jason is all she has in the world, her world has come to a standstill.

Over a series of flashbacks we learn why Jason was s
Aug 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I wanted to like this book more than I did, which seems to be a running theme with me lately. I liked the characters. I liked Sara, I liked Jason. I like Sam. I liked the discussions about Seal teamwork and the bond that ties them together, which was nicely juxtaposed with Sara's constant worries.

I didn't like some of the plot points and decisions that the author made. The whole deux ex machina with David was annoying, unbelievable, and yet vaguely expected. I had a feeling something like that
Roger Brunyate
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wars-other
Arms and the Woman

In a blog that she wrote for the Huffington Post, Lea Carpenter notes that eleven days was the period of truce negotiated between King Priam and Achilles in the Iliad after the death of Hector—an encounter movingly narrated by David Malouf in his novel Ransom. It is an appropriate reference for many reasons, not least the almost classical values that Carpenter both celebrates and espouses in her storytelling; this gripping debut novel is immediate in content, ample in moral per
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'A compelling story memorable by the strengh of its elegant prose.'
Toni Morrison.
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
(originally published at

The backstory: Eleven Days, the debut novel by Lea Carpenter, was longlisted for the 2014 Bailey's Prize and shortlisted for the 2013 Flaherty-Dunnan Prize.

The basics: Set in May 2011, Sara's son Jason, part of an elite military unit, has been missing for nine days. Jason and his disappearance are national news. Carpenter tells the story in alternating voices of Sara, in 2011, and Jason, from the past.

My thoughts: Carpenter immed
Jul 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
I wanted to read this book as I have an abiding interest in stories that deal with war. Especially modern warfare. Especially when they are written by civilians.
While there were a few glimmers, this book could not have disappointed me more.
Pacing was a problem. To read this book often felt like I had a morphine drip hooked up to my arm. It is SLOW. Mind you, I am not a reader who needs explosions, twists and turns, or crackling action. I was not hoping to read something that could eventually t
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
War and its warriors
Although not long at under 300 pages, “Eleven Days” is a heavy book, powerful with bold ideas about war and its warriors, a novel that has the narrative drive to keep you reading and to make you think about heroes and heroics of waging war, but also the loss and futility of it all.

The media vans and crowds of onlookers are encamped outside Sara’s farmhouse in suburban Pennsylvania. They’re waiting for news of her son Jason, a member of the elite Special Operations Forces, who
Bryn Dunham
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book a few days ago, but set aside logging it in order to think awhile. The four star rating could have been three... but, no, the book deserves to be recognised for the good work it is.

It is a powerful portrayal of a woman's love for her son and, I think, her faith in him, countered by the fact that his father let them both down about as badly as he could have.

It is about her son's love for her, his training and service as a highly skilled and principled member of the United St
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This title was one of the first available to download from our library when I quickly needed to come up with a book while having to spend several hours in Macomb, IL on a cold snowy Sunday waiting for Nik who attended a soccer camp there. Although it deals with war, it is not a typical war book as far as war action and violence is concerned. Instead it centers more on a mother son relationship and the ways to become a US military warrior. The title "Eleven Days" refers to the time that Jason, th ...more
Feb 25, 2014 rated it liked it
I'll admit that I struggled through most of this book due to the military jargon and the multiple pages of unbroken thought(I need some dialog now and again) but what saved it for me was the last 75 pages or so. High on emotion, I feel like we finally got out of the clinical feeling of the writing and into the emotion and that made all the difference. Finally, I could feel these characters and get a sense of who they were and what they were going through.
Renita D'Silva
Oct 23, 2014 rated it liked it
A poignant and haunting exploration of the bond between mother and son and what happens when that son goes missing while fighting for his country. An intense exploration of what it means to be a young soldier in modern times and what it does to those who love him.
Angela Juline
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
It had really good parts...but just too many odd parts. Disjointed? Not quite, but it's like she edited out portions without checking the flow. I cried - raising the level to a 4 rating.
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
this book just didn't do anything for me even the mother and son relationship through the different timescale of training and combat but just appeal to me tried.
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“Anyone who met him today would say, *Soldier. Fighter.* They would want him on their team. As a mother she was willing to engage in pride over fear and to admit the possibility that his sacrifice was hers, too. His sacrifice was something she had been able to give her country.” 0 likes
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