Booklist Reviews

Tension builds in Carpenter's spare debut as single mother Sara awaits news of Jason, her Navy SEAL son, missing in action on a top-secret mission. Their story is reduced to very nearly its barest bones, told mainly via Jason's letters home and his and Sara's reminiscences. Carpenter succeeds in making Sara an Everymother as she tries to reckon how her bookish, poetry-loving son could choose a career path that puts him in mortal danger with every overseas tour. She eventually reasons that she "had not lost a son on 9/11; she lost him later to something she could not provide at home." But it is clear that what she and Jason's deceased father each did give their son—whose teammates nicknamed him Priest—prepared him for nothing less than personal greatness, the kind of personal greatness that makes the best Navy SEAL. Subtle clues and a couple of plot twists sustain the story's tautness until its emotive climax. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

A founding editor of Zoetrope and a former deputy publisher of the Paris Review, Carpenter shows off her own writing with this debut about a woman whose son has gone missing after a SEAL mission.

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Library Journal Reviews

Debut novelist Carpenter, a founding editor of Zoetrope and a former deputy publisher of the Paris Review, tells the story of Sara, a devoted single mother whose son Jason has gone missing after a Navy SEAL operation in early May 2011. (Tellingly, though the raid occurred at that time, bin Laden's name is never mentioned in this suspenseful novel.) Jason's enigmatic father, a supposed Washington insider and older man, disappeared from the family years ago, and so Sara must cope alone. Through her recollections, Sara reveals how Jason chose and then qualified for the arduous path of special ops warfare. Not an exercise in simplistic flag-waving, Carpenter's engrossing, rather somber novel keenly examines an elite contemporary warrior class. VERDICT A powerful first novel and inside look into the making of a Navy SEAL and a portrait of the strength and courage of both mother and son. Highly recommended.—Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews

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—naming him Jason—and 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—the 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)

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PW Annex Reviews

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—naming him Jason—and 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—the 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)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC