Five Days Left

by Julie Lawson Timmer

Penguin Publishing Group | March 21, 2016 | Hardcover

Five Days Left is rated 4 out of 5 by 3.
“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 of Leaving Time

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 is a successful lawyer, devoted wife, and adoptive mother who has received a life-shattering diagnosis. 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 and the power of relationships, and shows that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.  

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 352 pages, 9.31 × 6.31 × 1.07 in

Published: March 21, 2016

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 039916734X

ISBN - 13: 9780399167348

Found in: Fiction

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Bittersweet Read I can usually finish a book within a couple of days, but I read Five Days Left slower than usual because I didn’t want it to end. I couldn’t bear to face the truth of what happened to the characters that I had become so attached to. My heart ached as I turned each page and I had tears streaming down my face more than once. This novel shows the devastation that Huntington’s disease causes and the tough realities of wanting to create and sustain a family. Julie Lawson Timmer’s first novel is raw. It is honest. It is a must-read.
Date published: 2016-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Bittersweet Read I can usually finish a book within a couple of days, but I read Five Days Left slower than usual because I didn’t want it to end. I couldn’t bear to face the truth of what happened to the characters that I had become so attached to. My heart ached as I turned each page and I had tears streaming down my face more than once. This novel shows the devastation that Huntington’s disease causes and the tough realities of wanting to create and sustain a family. Julie Lawson Timmer’s first novel is raw. It is honest. It is a must-read.
Date published: 2016-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sad, but worth it! I really enjoyed reading this book. For the second time in as many months, I have read a book by a debut author and never would have known it. I love debut novels, I feel like I'm in on a discovery and I look forward to reading more by this author. This book contains two very different stories with barely a connection, but it works. I liked Scott's story more than Mara's for different reasons. I won't go into the details because I don't want to spoil it for other readers. Scott is about to lose his foster son, who is being reunited with his mother. Mara has Huntington's Disease and has decided to commit suicide before the disease ravages her beyond all recognition. They have five days left. I loved the characters in this book and felt a connection with them right away. Not a small feat for an author. The emotions evoked by this book are very real and I shed more than a few tears while reading it. To me it had all of the things I look for in a good story. I would recommend it to anyone.
Date published: 2014-10-23

– More About This Product –

Five Days Left

Five Days Left

by Julie Lawson Timmer

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 352 pages, 9.31 × 6.31 × 1.07 in

Published: March 21, 2016

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 039916734X

ISBN - 13: 9780399167348

Read from the Book

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***Copyright © 2014 Julie Lawson Ti PART 1Tuesday, April 5Five Days Left1.MaraMara had chosen the method long ago: pills, vodka and carbon monoxide. A “garage cocktail,” she called it. The name sounded almost elegant, and sometimes, when she said it out loud, she could make herself believe it wasn’t horrifying.It would still be horrific for Tom, though, and she hated herself for that. She would rather do it without leaving a body for him. But as much as she’d love to spare him from being the one to discover her, she knew not letting him find her would be worse. And at least this was the tidiest option. He could have someone come and take her car away. Fill her side of the garage with something else, to block the image. Bikes, maybe. Gardening supplies.A second car for himself. Maybe she should arrange to have one delivered after. Would that be too weird, though? A gift from your dead wife. She should have given him one years ago. For their anniversary, or to celebrate bringing baby Lakshmi home. Or just because. She should have done so many things.Mara frowned. How could it be that she had spent almost four years ticking off all those items on her long list of things to do before she died, yet here she was, five days from it and still thinking of things she should have done?Ah, but that was the trick of it. Tell yourself you’ll wait until you’veaccomplished every last thing and you’d keep putting it off. Because there would
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From the Publisher

“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 of Leaving Time

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 is a successful lawyer, devoted wife, and adoptive mother who has received a life-shattering diagnosis. 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 and the power of relationships, and shows that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.  

About the Author

Julie Lawson Timmer grew up in Canada and earned a bachelor’s degree from McMaster University and a law degree from Southern Methodist University. She lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and children and is a lawyer. This is her first novel; she is currently at work on her second.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for FIVE DAYS LEFT“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 of Leaving Time“Timmer’s novel is a heartbreaker, but it is also a stirring debut.” —BookPage"Timmer's emotional debut should come with a box of tissues....The characters are so affecting it's tough to make it to Day 5. An Authentic and powerful story." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review“Told in the alternating voices of Mara and Scott, Timmer’s debut novel packs a powerful punch. Absorbing, deeply affecting, and ultimately uplifting, it heralds the arrival of an author to watch.”—Library Journal (starred review)“This starkly intimate epistolary novel …dissects the experiences of losing hope and finding strength….Timmer makes a powerful debut.” —Publishers Weekly “Like Joshilyn Jackson, Timmer, in her impressive debut novel, shows a facility for creating authentic characters dealing with heart-wrenching dilemmas….A compelling read and a good choice for book clubs.” —Booklist“Five Days Left is a heart-wrenching drama about a world in which there are no easy answers. With an unflinching gaze, Julie Lawson Timmer explores what makes a family, what happens when bonds (familial and otherwise) are tested, and the relationships we forge that change our lives. This novel feels as true as life.” —Christina Bak
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Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTION

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.


ABOUT JULIE LAWSON TIMMER

Julie Lawson Timmer grew up in Canada and earned a bachelor's degree from McMaster University and a law degree from Southern Methodist University. She lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and children and is a full-time lawyer. This is her first novel; she is currently at work on her second.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Before we meet Mara, she has already decided to be tested for Huntington's disease. We learn from Tom (and this is true in real life) that many people at risk choose not to take the test. They would rather live with a 50/50 chance that they don't have the disease than know with 100 percent certainty they have it. Why did Mara choose certainty over chance? What would you choose, and why?

  • Mara believes it would be better for Laks and Tom to be without her than to be "dragged down" by her. Is it easier for a child with a severely ill or disabled parent if that parent dies early rather than lives for a long time? What about for the person's spouse? From what you know of Tom, will he feel relieved by or furious with Mara's decision?

  • Scott feels that Curtis would have a better future if he stayed with him and his wife instead of going back to live with his mother, LaDania, even if she cleans herself up. But unless there's been extreme neglect or abuse, the law holds, it's in a child's best interest to be with his own mother. What do you think? Are the Coffmans the best choice for adoptive parents for Curtis, or should the social worker look for a same-race family? Is race an important consideration in foster care or adoption?

  • The online forum is an important source of friendship and support to Scott and Mara. Why do they each rely so much on people they've never met? Do you have online friends you've never met? Have you relied on them for friendship, support, or advice? Would you rely on them? What is it about online relationships that allows people to share intimate facts about their lives with others who are essentially strangers?

  • Bray is prepared to give up his basketball scholarship and college education to look after Curtis, until friends tell him it's the wrong thing to do, both for him and for Curtis. If living with the Coffmans isn't an option, do you agree it's better for Bray to put Curtis into foster care rather than try to raise him?

  • If you were a friend of Mara's and learned of her plan, would you let Tom know, or would you keep your friend's secret? Do you think Tom should tell Laks how her mother died? Why or why not?

  • Early in their marriage, Scott and Laurie made plans to have children of their own. Later, Scott realized this plan wasn't important to him anymore. Why do you think that is? Should Laurie be expected to go along with her husband's new outlook, or should Scott be expected to stick with their original plan? In the end, Laurie sacrifices the family she's always dreamed of in order to help Curtis and Bray. Why does she make that choice?

  • Mara hides her condition from her friends on the online forum. Does this make her interactions with them less authentic? Have you ever used the anonymity offered by the Internet to present yourself as someone different from who you really are? Can online relationships ever be as authentic as in-person ones?

  • Mara is unable to accept the loss of her legal career and her dependence. Were you sympathetic to her about this, or upset with her? Is her reaction understandable, given her Type A personality, or should she have tried harder to accept her new reality for the sake of her family? Do you believe the motivation behind Mara's ultimate decision was Tom and Laks, or did she make a choice based on her own feelings and then justify it to herself by saying it was better for her husband and daughter? Is Mara self-sacrificing and brave, or is she selfish and cowardly?

  • If you were in either Mara's or Scott's position, what would you do?