cover image Eleven Days

Eleven Days

Lea Carpenter. Knopf, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-96070-2

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%E2%80%94naming him Jason%E2%80%94and 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%E2%80%94the 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)