Five Days Left
by Julie Lawson Timmer
Why did you choose this book? I was surprised with an ARC from Penguin First To Read!
When did you read this book? August 2014
Who should read this book?
Source: Penguin First To Read
Destined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.
Mara Nichols is a successful lawyer, devoted wife, and adoptive mother who has received a life-shattering diagnosis. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most.
Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance and the power of relationships, and shows that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.
Another ‘wow’! This one caught my interest from the beginning and held it the entire time! The story revolves around two characters; Mara, a woman suffering from Huntington’s Disease, a degenerative neurological disease which has no cure and results in death, and Scott, a teacher who has been raising a foster child for the past year. They both have FIVE DAYS LEFT!; Mara to live with her disease before her self-imposed deadline to take things into her own hands, and Scott to live with Curtis, the foster son, before he has to return him to his mother. Mara and Scott live in different regions of the country and have no connection to each other except through an anonymous internet adoption forum that they visit for support.
I think anyone who has ever watched someone progress through Huntington’s Disease, ALS, Alzheimers, or a similar degenerative disease will recognize the emotions expressed by Mara. I thought the portrayal of her fear of becoming an invalid and her desire to end her life on her own terms was very realistic. I also thought the conflicting emotions Scott showed in selfishly wanting to keep Curtis with him but ‘knowing’ that reuniting the family was the ‘best option’, were portrayed realistically.
You knew from the beginning there could be no fairy tale ending here. No matter what Mara decides, we know that eventually she will die. And no matter what family Curtis ends up with, someone will experience loss. But even though there was no ‘happily-ever-after’ ending, the ending was realistic, and for that reason it is satisfactory. This is an emotional story, but a very good story! This will make a great book club selection, with discussion topics ranging from suicide, adoption, foster care, and others. You can visit the Penguin web site to find discussion questions or read an excerpt of the book.
My Rating: ★★★★1/2 4-1/2 Stars
I received an advanced review copy of this book through the Penguin First To Read program and have written an honest review.