Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens [in Library Journal]
In a Manhattan hospital, two women are each pregnant – one obviously, the other not yet visibly. Lore arrives with no partner, no friends, and no support, but she is armed with a several-page birth plan with which she expects to control the impossible.
The main nurse who attends her is Franckline, an immigrant from one “of the French-speaking islands, Haiti, maybe, or Guadeloupe,” who is also pregnant, although still unable to feel secure about the not-yet-baby within. While Lore labors, Franckline will work hard to calm, soothe, coach, and care for her, even as she worries about her own impending motherhood.
As they wait and work, both women find themselves remembering, regretting, and reconsidering the respective pasts that brought them each to this point – pregnant, nervous, uncertain. Beautiful and brutal, Pamela Erens’s (The Virgins) third novel is a revelatory meditation on relationships – between adults, lovers, friends, parents, and children of all ages.
Veteran narrator Cassandra Campbell employs her usual arsenal of accents and intonations to enhance Erens’s impeccable prose with both urgency and grace.
Verdict: A quick, intense, and viscerally electrifying story that leaves behind vestiges of fear, panic, and hope; libraries should order immediately.