REVIEW: FIVE DAYS LEFT, BY JULIE LAWSON TIMMER

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Mara and Scott are two individuals living miles apart, connecting only on an online forum. For each of them, their lives have veered desperately off course, and they are facing life-changing decisions. Scott lives near Detroit, and Mara and her family live in Dallas.

For Mara, once a high-powered attorney and adoptive mother of Laks, a degenerative and incurable disease will soon render her unable to care for herself, much less her kindergartner daughter. Four years ago, she made a decision: she would leave everyone and everything behind on her birthday. She is now five days from that moment when her life will be over.

Scott’s situation seems less dire, but no less emotionally devastating. After a year of caring for young Curtis, it is time for the eight-year-old to return to his mother. He is so sad, yet his wife, pregnant with their first child, is detached and looking forward to being alone with her own family. Scott has five days left with Curtis.

Almost immediately, I connected with each of these characters, learning their life stories and feeling what they felt. With much vividness, the author brings us right into the gritty and physically challenging moments of each day for Mara and we can experience the humiliation she feels as the tries to maintain a “normal” life. But her physical limitations and embarrassing accidents embarrass her child until one day, she realizes that, if she doesn’t leave the family now, her daughter and husband will pay a heavy price.

But what will be left for them afterwards? Struggling with these issues, it seems like Mara has not yet made her final decision.

And for Scott, an unexpected event will change the course of young Curtis’s life, and will require that he make a different decision. But will his wife support him?

Five Days Left took my breath away. Even as I hoped for a different ending, I was surprised and pleased that some of what I had hoped for came to pass. The sadness was mitigated by some hopefulness. The only thing I might have wished to be different: I would have loved seeing other perspectives in this story. Instead, we only see the points of view of Mara and Scott, and have to imagine what the other characters are feeling. 4.0 stars.

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