I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens
Published by Tin House on May 3, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Psychological, Women's Fiction
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Lore arrives at the hospital alone—no husband, no partner, no friends. Her birth plan is explicit: she wants no fetal monitor, no IV, no epidural. Franckline, a nurse in the maternity ward—herself on the verge of showing—is patient with the young woman. She knows what it’s like to worry that something might go wrong, and she understands the pain when it does. She knows as well as anyone the severe challenge of childbirth, what it does to the mind and the body.
Eleven Hours is the story of two soon-to-be mothers who, in the midst of a difficult labor, are forced to reckon with their pasts and re-create their futures. Lore must disentangle herself from a love triangle; Franckline must move beyond past traumas to accept the life that’s waiting for her. Pamela Erens moves seamlessly between their begrudging friendship and the memories evoked by so intense an experience. At turns urgent and lyrical, Erens’s novel is a visceral portrait of childbirth, and a vivid rendering of the way we approach motherhood—with fear and joy, anguish and awe.
Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens packs a lot of emotion into a short book. At just 176 pages and spanning the time frame of eleven hours (I know, that would be hard to guess!) it focuses on a woman in labor and the pregnant nurse assigned to her. Lore, the one in labor, has her birth plan nailed down and knows exactly how it should go. Franckline her nurse, is pregnant and feels an attachment to Lore right away. Delving into the time frame of the delivery and the path both women took to get there, this book seems much bigger than it really is.
The plot of Eleven Hours had a few issues. I loved the interaction between the two main characters but the flashbacks that should have helped flesh out the story detracted from it instead. The writing of Pamela Erens was suburb. She was able to weave very vivid and nuanced items into her sentences and I loved her phrasing. The pacing was good although the flashbacks did throw off the flow a bit. The world built was slight. Since the majority of the action centered around one location, not much was needed. I really liked the two main characters, Lore and Franckline. They had a fantastic interaction and I really enjoyed their dynamic. The other characters were seen so slightly that they never really made an impression on me either way. The emotions were very high in this tale. A story centered around childbirth will, of course, be emotional, and Erens was able to convey the pain and joy in equal measure.
Eleven Hours was a success. I enjoyed the character interplay and the emotions were great. The plot had a few issues with trying to pack a lot of back story in when it was not truly needed, but as a whole I enjoyed the read. I will say if anyone has had an issue with a pregnancy or childbirth that this book is probably not for you, as it delves into some issues that may bring up painful memories. I have heard great things about Pamela Erens and now I know why. Even with a plot I didn’t fully love, her writing still drew me in.
Favorite lines – She would like the surprise of children, the way they bring pieces of the outer world back to you, pieces of the past, present, and future. The way they are always in a place where you cannot quite meet them.
Biggest cliché – But, I have a plan.
Have you read Eleven Hours, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 Diverse Books Reading Challenge
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Mount TBR Reading Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge