Five Days Left; Julie Lawson Timmer
Putnam - 2014
Five Days Left - How would you spend the if you knew someone that you loved was going away for good or that you had five days left to live? Mara Nichols and Scott Coffman are the individuals for who "five days left" is reality. The two don't know one another other than interactions in an on-line chat room for individuals with non-traditional families.
Mara is a lawyer, a wife and a mother of a child who was adopted from India and is now in kindergarten. Adopted herself and unfamiliar with her genetic background, she receives some shocking news, a diagnosis of Huntington's disease, a disease that is always fatal, but not before the neurological impact destroys the body by way of physical, cognitive and psychological changes; There is no cure for this disease. Now as she approaches 42, Mara is seeing some of the effects of this disease. She is planning to end her life before her body and mind are completely compromised.
Scott is a middle school teacher and foster parent to an eight-year old boy named Curtis (Little Man), a child he has fallen in love with. The child's mother is in jail, but is about to be released, and the child is to be returned to her. Scott and his wife have had the boy for one year and are pleased with his progress. Scott should be thrilled that he and his wife are expecting a baby of their own, but instead he is filled with sadness over his impending loss.
The story is told in alternating voices over the "five days left". It is a heart wrenching story for very different reasons. It touches on many different areas - love, sacrifice, letting go, the right to end one's life etc. I thought Mara's character felt very real given her situation. Scott's situation was compelling as well. This is a very good debut novel, but definitely not a book for everyone. It is an emotional read, but I do think it would make a good choice for book club discussions.