Sons of War

Published June 18, 2013

ABOVE: LEA CARPENTER. IMAGE COURTESY OF CLIFF BROKAW

Eleven Days (Knopf), Lea Carpenter’s debut novel, begins on May 11, 2011, as a mother waits for news of her son, Jason, a Navy SEAL who went missing during an important mission (it’s easy enough to guess which one). The novel, told largely in elegiac flashbacks, is haunted by myth, asking what it means to be a “wise warrior” in an age when battles are fought primarily in houses and rooms rather than trenches and fields. Though Carpenter, like Jason, tends toward mythmaking of her own, making her characters seem in thrall of their pasts, Eleven Days remains a heartfelt attempt to understand the courage of men. A soldier’s daughter and mother of sons herself, Carpenter knows that “myth is a fiction that matters.”