As I continue down my Tin House Books rabbit hole, I decided to read one of their newer titles that I heard a lot about Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens. The good news was that it is another fantastic and well written book under the Tin House banner. The bad news was that it is also an extremely heavy book about broken relationships.
The whole story takes place over the course of eleven hours as Lore, a single pregnant mother, is about to deliver her baby. By her side is her nurse Franckline, a tough yet caring person. Both women have been thrown together by happenstance, but both women are dealing with broken relationships and secrets.
Lore's story involves her friend Julia and her friend Asa. Asa and Julia were at one time childhood lovers and have been on and off lovers as adults too. Julia convinces Lore to date Asa. There is a broken triangle relationship between the three of them.
Franckline is pregnant, but has not told her significant other yet. She has had several miscarriages and keeps fearing the baby within is also dying. Her paranoia and fear has kept her from being truthful to her husband about this new baby.
It is also the story of these two women who have now been brought together. Franckline initially does not like Lore's attitude or demands, but grows to see that Lore is doing the best she can with the situation she is in. Lore doesn't enjoy Franckline's nature, but grows to see that Franckline is doing the best she can to take care of Lore and feels lost without Franckline in the room.
As stated, the whole book takes place during the contractions portion of the delivery of Lore's baby and is told as if it were a train of thought book. We sometimes jump into Lore's story and Lore's thoughts and at other times we are following Franckline. There is not break or any chapters to allow for such transitions. Mid page and a paragraph jump and we might be in a different woman's head. The entire book is a single chapter.
The structure makes the book a tad difficult to follow at times, but it also lends to the idea that thoughts are flowing constantly during downtime and when left alone. Lore while waiting for the next contraction in the room alone might have a memory of how she got into this situation. Fanckline while working at her desk would think about her situation, so it works on that level. Having the person jumps though, mid page, was difficult in a few locations.
This is not a feel good book. While there are certain movies that one should watch even though they are heavy dramas, the same is with books. This is a heavy book. These two women's lives are not perfect in any sense of the word. They are in situations they do not want to be in. They are filled with worries and doubts. I will not spoil the end, but it isn't an easy delivery for Lore. I read the ending in the morning before going to work and that was a huge mistake!
The book is so well written that the story keeps moving. We feel the pain Lore is in both physically and emotionally. We are with Franckline as she struggles with her world. These women are alive and breathing characters.
While it isn't a book I will be ready to read again any times soon, I gave this one 4 stars.
Here is your Amazon link- Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens