Five Days LeftFive Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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, a successful lawyer, and devoted wife and adoptive mother, has recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease. 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, the power of relationships, and that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.

I’m not sure I can accurately put into words how I feel about this book. I both loved and hated it. Loved it for the emotions it evoked and then hated it for the exact same reasons. A moving tale that makes you think, makes you wonder …what would I do?

After reading until 1:30 am and then crying myself to sleep, I find myself sitting at my desk this morning still thinking about it. What would I do? It’s not something I haven’t asked myself before. My sister was diagnosed with a terminal illness three years ago. So I know personally what it is like to care for someone who can no longer fend for themselves. The bathing, feeding, dressing, wiping their nose, their ass, their face. In no way is it a burden, but in no way is it easy either. To watch someone you love slowly or quickly lose the ability to do the simplest thing. To see the labor they put into simply breathing in air. To see the life of a once vibrant person completely drained until nothing more than a shell sits there. Would I want that? Would I want my family, my husband, my children to endure those feelings? To know that there is nothing they can do and yet also know they’ll try in every possible way?

Five Days Left makes you consider all these things and more. It makes you consider what type of parent you are and the legacy you may leave behind. Was I a good wife? Does my husband know how much I love him? Do my parents realize what they mean to me? It makes you consider you’re strengths and whether they are really something to be proud of or if in reality the very things you pride yourself on are a weaknesses in disguise.

But, this isn’t only a story of Mara, who only has five days left. It’s also a compelling story of Scott, who with his wife, has been fostering a young boy for a year. He too as five days left. Five days until the boy is returned to his mother. Five days until the bond that he’s formed and the love they’ve built is torn apart. Another heart-breaking story that’s personal to me. Day in and out, I encounter these situations at work. I see kids passed around and placed from one terrible situation into another. Every once in a while one may get a chance and find themselves in a good home only to be ripped out later down the road and put somewhere else. It’s sad, unfortunate and huge fault in our system. A fault that I don’t know how to fix or what the answers may be, but a problem none-the-less.

Maybe I found this story so compelling because I was able to associate with it on a personal level, but I honestly don’t think that’s the case. It’s well written, moving and thought provoking. One of those that you’ll think about for a while. I cried on the very first page and again and again. So much that at times, I couldn’t read any further and had to walk away. It turned into a discussion at home for my husband and I. One that we didn’t quite see eye to eye on and then I spoke about it and teared up while talking with a co-worker.

A story that will bring you happiness and sorrow, tears, joy, feelings that you’d rather not feel and thoughts that you wish you didn’t have. To me, that’s a perfect story. I’d give it ten stars if I could.

I received a copy of Five Days Left from Penguins First To Read program in exchange for an honest review.

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