Book Reviews

Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens

eleven hours“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.

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 distress when it does. She knows as well as anyone the severe challenge of childbirth, what it does to the mind and the body.” ~Goodreads

It’s been a long while since I’ve started a review with the blurb from another book source. I just couldn’t put into words what I should say about this one. I didn’t love it but didn’t dislike it either.

For those who are pregnant, have miscarried, lost a child at birth or are planning on having kids anytime soon, it’s best to avoid this one for now. I used to watch TLC’s, A Baby Story, back in the day and had to stop when I was pregnant. I had a visceral reaction while reading this book and haven’t read a story that describes what really happens when a woman is in labor. It’s been almost 12 years for me and reading this brought it all back (you never really forget). An experience that is touted as “natural” and “what the body is capable of doing” is also very dangerous and taxing -this book made sure to include that.

I also didn’t fully connect with the characters and wanted more. There were so many unanswered questions and snippets that left me hanging. Questions if I mentioned here would spoil it, so hopefully someone will read it soon. For that reason alone it could be a great book club selection. Not sure who the audience would be though. Women with older children? Women not having children? Men? Teens-to scare them away from ever having unprotected sex?

It’s definitely one of the most brave and bold books I’ve read revealing women’s thoughts and feelings. Erens is a beautiful author and it almost read as a thriller. I couldn’t put it down and actually peeked ahead to the ending-something I never do. What I did like best was the way that Lore and Franckline escaped their current uncertainty and pain by going somewhere else in their mind using the balance of reality and fantasy, memories and hopes for the future.

“How again and again she was caught up short by the discovery that other people had stories they didn’t tell, or told stories that weren’t entirely true. How mostly you got odd chunks torn from the whole, impossible truly to understand in their damaged form.”

Exactly my thoughts.

Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens is 165 pages and was published by Tin House Books on May 3, 2016. I found a copy at my local library.


2 thoughts on “Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens

  1. I am looking for just about any excuse to take a title off my TBR and this was one I was somewhat ambivalent about to begin with. Thanks for putting it into words so I can make an informed decision.

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