Book Review: Five Days Left

What if you only had five days left? Five days to live the rest of your life, five days to spend with your spouse, five days to spend with your kid. This is a question plaguing both main characters in Julie Lawson Timmer’s debut novel, Five Days Left.

Five Days Left follows Mara Nichols and Scott Coffman, two characters who are each dealing with their own parental woes. Mara was adopted as a child and has since adopted her own little girl. Meanwhile, Scott and his wife are currently fostering the younger brother of a former student. Although they have never met in real life, the two each belong to a forum for parents of adoptive and fostered children. As the novel progresses and Mara and Scott face their seemingly separate journeys, Timmer manages to weave their interconnectivity beautifully as the reader jumps back and forth between Mara and Scott and their interactions in their own lives as well as between each other on the parenting forum.

Scott should be elated now that he and his wife are finally expecting a child of their own; however, knowing he must give up his “little man” in five days when the boy’s mother returns is killing Scott and it’s also taking quite the toll on his marriage.

Mara used to be a successful lawyer. She used to be happy. Moreover, she used to be healthy. But that was then and what is now is Huntington’s, a disease that is slowly taking her hostage and giving her no respite whatsoever. So Mara hatches a plan. Her birthday is in five days. Instead of letting Huntington’s kill her in the most humiliating and debilitating of ways, she will die on her own terms. She will take her own life.

Five days is all Scott and Mara have left.

This novel will make you cry, will make you angry, but most importantly it’ll provoke you to answer one simple question: what would you do if you only had five days left?