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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Five Days Left

ISBN: 039916734X

Publisher: Putman Adult

Publication Date: 09/09/2014

Format: e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars

"A beautifully drawn study of what is at risk when you lose control of your own life. Unique, gripping, and viscerally moving -- this impressive debut novel heralds the arrival of an extremely talented writer." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author

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.

My Review

Julie Lawson Timmer’s powerful debut novel, FIVE DAYS LEFT, an emotional, bittersweet and poignant portrayal of two different individuals and families, linked only by an online forum, both struggling with uncontrollable and gripping circumstances; insurmountable, each wrapped with deep emotion, and affliction, while facing fear and the ultimate sacrifice for those they love, and hold dear to their hearts.

Set in Texas, Mara Nichols, (LaksMama-online name) forty-two, a successful lawyer, was adopted and unfortunately, received nothing from her biological except one nasty genetic non-curable disease, HD (discovered four years ago).

Now, she is struggling raising her own adoptive five year old daughter, Laks with her supportive and lovable husband, Tom, a successful dermatologist. Two motivated people who love the other to the edges of the universe and back. Two people motivated so strongly by love for the other that either of them would do anything for the other’s sake.

As the symptoms increase and worsen, knowing there is no cure, she begins questioning her future as well as those she loves, and how the devastating disease controls everything and affects everyone around her. How can she allow her husband and daughter to be burdened with her care, distressed, and embarrassed by her condition? Mara decides to use her upcoming birthday, in five days as the date, for the final choice.

“Gradual decrease in ability to perform daily activities such as work, driving, forgetfulness, eventual inability to walk, depression, anxiety, mood swings, personality changes, involuntary movements of face, body and limbs, unable to speak, swallow, perform, self-care, completely dependent on others in late stages; wheelchair, nursing home, feeding tube, limited awareness of surroundings, inability to speak, may not recognize family members; life expectancy ten to fifteen years after onset of symptoms, no effective treatment to slow progression of brain cell death. Fatal. No cure.”

For the past five years, Mara has chatted a few minutes almost daily with her fellow forum members, about nontraditional parenting arrangements and so much more—Friendship. With a few members she had ventured beyond group discussion and into the private world of personal messaging. This is where the two souls connect, nameless and only known by their online names.

Scott Coffman, (MotorCity-online name) altruistic middle school teacher has been fostering, Curtis, an eight year-old boy while the mother serves a jail sentence. In five days his time will be up, and the boy he loves desperately will be returned to his mother, in a less than desirable and unhealthy environment.

He and his wife, Laurie (expecting a baby of their own), desperately make plans for the last week of time with their foster son. However, at the last minute the social worker says they have to return him early. What comes thereafter is another life altering decision.

As a secondary character (yet powerful) part of the story, is Harry. Harry is a cab driver, and spends a great deal of time with Mara, since she is not able to drive. The common bond of two troubled souls will bring tears to your eyes, with this breathtaking story of loss and love.

As the five day countdown gets closer, emotions run high and intense, testing the individual limits of human endurance, for a spellbinding story of ultimate love.

From detailed descriptions, to raw intense emotions as Mara is slowly stripped of her dignity and independence, the humiliation, interactions and havoc created with family members, the pain, grief, and incredible research into this disease, and the emotional fall out-- Timmer skillfully creates well-drawn characters, actions, suspense, and beautifully written letters which will grab you, warming your soul as you grieve for these characters. (The kitchen, car, and bathroom scene--an award-winning performance)!

An extraordinary, compelling, and moving debut novel, written with compassion, insight, and sensitivity – a winner out of the gate! I think it is time for Julie to give up her day job, as I see "bestseller" written all over FIVE DAYS LEFT and many more to come!

Fans of Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, Diane Chamberlain, Lisa Genova, Kristin Hannah, Amy Hatvany, and Nicholas Sparks will devour, making for an ideal novel for book clubs and discussions!

A special thank you to "First to Read" Penguin Books for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author

Julie Lawson Timmer grew up in Ontario and earned a bachelor’s degree from McMaster University before heading south of the border. She has a law degree from Southern Methodist University and works as in-house legal counsel in Michigan. She is the author of Untethered and Five Days Left. She lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and children.






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