Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

Title: Five Days Left
Author: Julie Lawson Timmer
Publisher: Putnam
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
ISBN: 9780399167348
Number of Pages: 352
How I Got It: direct from publicist 
Format: paperback

Publicist Release Summary:
Five Days Left tells the story of two people saying goodbye. Diagnosed with Huntington's disease, the incurable, always fatal degenerative neurological disorder, Mara has given herself five days to deice whether she should take her own life rather than subjecting herself and her family to the final stages of the illness. Scott, a middle-school teacher who has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy's mother serves a jail sentence, has five days before the boy will return to his mother, walking out of Scott's house forever. Through Scott and Mara's stories, Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance and the power of relationships-- those we have with our best friends and family, and those we may have with people we've never even met. Ultimately, Five Days Left is about love, and how sometimes loving someone means we have to hold on, and sometimes it means we have to let go. 

Choosing to have her main character suffer from Huntington's disease, Lawson Timmer did intensive research into the disease, consulting with numerous experts, and she researched the other subjects in the book, from foster care to infertility to criminal sentencing, with the same meticulous care. The result is a beautifully rendered, true story that speaks to us all and asks how we would hold ourselves together in the face of such breathtaking impending loss. 

My Review
I've said before that I never wanted to suffer through a degenerative disease and have discussed end of life arrangements with my family but it still never seems "real." While reading this novel, I really felt the desperation of Mara. Her body is slowly betraying her and she must decide whether to end her own life or continue to deteriorate to a point where she will no longer be able to make that decision for herself. The second storyline of Scott's makes me consider another hypothetical situation, fostering a child. I have considered fostering a child before but have personally decided that is not something I think I could do. Scott is a perfect foster father and now a year later, he's counting down the last days he gets to spend with Little Man. This book made my heart hurt in the most delightful way. Julie Lawson Timmer gave just the right responses to situations the characters were in. There is nothing worse than reading about characters saying or doing things in highly emotional situations that are either outlandish or by-the-book. This would be a great book club choice, as it would allow the discussion of suicides, degenerative diseases, class divisions, adoption, fostering, and responsibilities.

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

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