Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

imageMara 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.

Timmer creates a provoking and emotional narrative. Whatever your view may be on euthanasia, you will find yourself questioning yourself repeatedly and placing yourself in Mara’s shoes. The ethical dilemma leaves you speechless as we face a haunting disease ravaging a young woman in her prime as she copes with this devastating debilitating terminal illness.

I connected with Mara instantly. Timmer depicts Mara’s emotional state dealing with HD extremely affecting. Dealing with a health issue myself, Mara’s attitude was sketched perfectly. Well researched, arduous effort introducing HD to the audience.

A painful portrayal of a woman, along with family and friends, all coping with this unwelcome intruder. You find yourself fully invested emotionally unsure of the final outcome. Mara’s plight is moving and heartbreaking, tears will be shed as Mara battles on with utmost grace and determination. Her thoughts and actions are raw, direct and painful, the peruser will feel empathy and helplessness evoking such powerful emotion.

As drawn as I was to Mara and her story I found the narrative somewhat contrived. I didn’t care for the parallel storyline, a bit boring not to mention predictable, almost misplaced. Scott’s situation appeared as filler, easily omitted, the narrative would have been fine with its absence. Predictability was strong in actions of the secondary narrative. I applaud Tom’s character, although once again forced.

Impressive debut, high points for presenting a difficult moral dilemma, along with bringing attention to a little known and rare savage illness – Huntington’s Disease. Timmer’s brassy content leaves me curious as to her next project, hopefully with a less clunky writing style, more editing and a few less pages, compensating for her green inauguration. Wonderful benchmark of her untapped potential.

A vexing topic leading to various views and heated discussions. The reader will be lost in thought for quite a while.

Expected publication: September 9th 2014 by Putnam Adult (first published August 28th 2014)
Pages 352
ISBN13: 9780399167348
A copy provided in exchange for an honest review

Reviewer: Melinda

Recommendation: 3/5