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.
©2014 Julie Lawson Timmer (P)2014 Penguin Audio
British ex-pat living in NC. Have more personalities than Sybil which is reflected in my choice of books! Frustrated writer at heart.
Chose this book randomly. Was looking for something about Huntington's Disease and boy oh boy did I find a gem...this gem!
This book is two stories about 'goodbyes'. Julie Lawson Timmer is a wondeful author. She takes us, her readers on two quite diverse journeys. One story will make you weep but you will be joining his 'cheer leading' squad. The second story is romantic, joyful, devastating.
I have no intention of saying more about this wonderful book as I cried an ocean during and after reading it. As we have HD in my family it is very close to my heart so I may not be as objective as I could be but as an avid reader I adored every single word written by Julie Lawson Timmer and so beautifully performed by Rebecca Lowman and Kirby Heyborne.
Maybe not for everyone but definitely for me.
I bought this book hoping for an emotional read and I got exactly what I was hoping for. I listened to this audiobook while doing everything - driving, cleaning, cooking - all while crying! It was definitely a tear jerker!
One of the main characters, Mara, has Huntington's Disease (HD) and she is determined to end her life on her birthday (to spare her loved ones from having an extra day to grieve her death). Whether you agree with "death with dignity", this novel will have you feeling the pain of Mara. She's at a crossroad - she doesn't want her family to live being her caretaker, yet this is still a difficult decision because she wants to grow old with them. She feels robbed of life and is understandably bitter about her fate. Julie Lawson Timmer did an excellent job with her characters, because there were many times that I felt that I understood or was going through Mara's pain myself. Furthermore, Rebecca Lowman narrated Mara's character excellently as she helped to bolster this effect.
There was another main character and story that seemed out of place, however. That would probably be my only complaint about this book. A middle school teacher, named Scott, has to face the inevitable end of hosting his foster son. Scott becomes attached to the young boy and is devastated when his biological mother is returning home from a stint in jail to continue caring for him. While his story was interesting and an important one, I would not have minded if the author focused entirely on Mara's story.
I think that what I appreciated about this novel was that it was fiction but there were times that I had to remind myself that it was not non-fiction. The characters, their problems, and reactions were so real that it could have been you or I. Without a doubt, if anything, this book will continue the discussion about physician-assisted suicide or death with dignity. While we hear the medical argument for and against it, it is rare that we hear the emotional toll that it takes on the afflicted person and their families. After listening to this, I have a new respect for the entire debate and respect each affected person's decision.
It's not often that I find a book that I want to listen to for a second time but this is definitely on my list to read again!
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
I am ambivalent about this book. It covers a very ambitious topic, walking a person through the last 5 days of their life, all the while knowing they will commit suicide on that 5th day. I am not giving anything away by saying this. You know that is the main characters intent from the very beginning. I think one of my problems with the book is the quality of the writing was not up to the meat of the topic. This is Ms. Timmer's debut book and while there are some moments of great storytelling, I think I would have suggested to the author that she get a couple of other books on lighter topics under her belt, before she tackled this one.
Other readers have suggested that the second story line, about a teacher who is going to lose his much loved foster son in five days, was superfluous and detracted from the main story line. But I actually thought that this storyline was better written and more fleshed out than the primary story line. My only issue with this is we need to all accept that text messages sound silly and infantile when read out loud. No one talks that way and it is jarring to hear it. And the teacher seemed a little too sincere.
In the main story line I found the information about Huntington's disease morbidly interesting. I knew about the disease and it's impact on families' lives, but never thought about what it would be like to be an adopted child who is diagnosed with the disease out of the blue. To a degree, families with Huntington's live their lives waiting for the shoe to drop. It is no more tragic, but certainly more shocking if you did not grow up knowing what might be in your future. The detailed explanation of what the test scores mean was new to me. And certainly made the condition more frightening.
My issue with the main story line was the amount of introspection and second guessing the main character was still going through. I do not like books that spend so much time inside a characters head. I would rather they were developed by letting the reader understand them through their interactions with other characters and the world in general. I have no idea how it would feel to live with this terrible sword hanging over you, but by the time we meet the character, she has known about the disease for a long time, has suffered from its effects for several years and has planned her suicide for months, if not years and has everything she needs to carry it out in place and ready to go. I am sure that someone that determined to die would still have second thoughts, would still have moments of doubt up to the last moment. But we were down to the last five days, and while she made lists about everything she still needed to accomplish, instead of resolving the issues on the list, there was just more introspection. There were ties she had to sever, the goodbyes that needed to be made and the closure she needed to give. There was some of this, but far more of the book was focused on her internal dialog of doubts. I was more interested in how she would say goodbye to her spouse and parents, without revealing the truth. But that was glossed over.
However, there were moments when the book shined, and moments that were so real I had to remind myself that this was fiction. I was upset at the end that she left her online support group, people she was supposedly very close to, in the dark, with no way to know why she disappeared. It seemed very cold and out of character. That is when I had to remind myself this was just a book.
I probably would rate this book slightly higher, if not for all of the hype it received. By the time I read it the praise was overwhelming and my expectations were high. But they were not met.
I found the information on Huntington's disease very interesting. The relationships in the story were too perfect for me.
This side story about the foster child did not seem relevant.
Couldn't stop listening to the book...wanted to get to the end as quickly as possible to find out what happens to the characters. Tear jerker as well. A must read.
I am an eBay seller who listens to approx. a book a day while taking & editing photos of my items. I love a good suspenseful mystery!
A little over half way thru and I just quit listening because I just couldn't take it anymore!
This book bugged me! I kept listening because that's what I do but I finally shut it off after listening to the following scene....the sick woman, Mara is visiting her 5 year old daughter's elementary school when she suffers from an 'episode' (due to her illness) causing her to fall and make a scene in front of some of the children at the school. Her 5 year old daughter is one of the children who witnesses this fall and the author wants us to believe that the little girls first reaction is to stand there and stare then proceed to yell at her mom because she has embarrassed her in front of her friends!!! Seriously???? That's not what a 5 year old girl would do!!! Not only that but we're then supposed to believe that the other children (who are supposed to be in Kindergarten and the 4th grade) standing nearby react in an equally appalling manner by 'cackling' and calling her a drunk!!! A DRUNK???!!! Cackling??!!! Where are these kids from and who is raising them??? Not one of them appears to show any compassion, attempts to help her up, shows a bit of concern or is even afraid!!! They ALL just start making fun of the woman??? And as if that isn't bad enough we are then told that the one adult standing nearby reacts the same way by quickly ushering the children away from the lady and not offering a bit of help or compassion??!!!!
Yep that was it, that was the last straw!
The whole entire book up to this point l found myself wondering when something interesting was going to happen. The book is about two very self centered characters, Mara & Scott. Neither one is likable in my opinion but if I had to choose I guess Scott although whiny & selfish, is bearable. Scott has been taking care of a foster kid and has 5 days left to spend with him before the kid goes to live with his mom again. This part of the book like I said is 'bearable' but basically boring. The parts dedicated to Mara were the one's that made me want to scream "get over yourself lady" about a million times! I found this woman so unlikable that even though she is suffering from a horribly debilitating terminal illness I had absolutely no sympathy for her! In the beginning of the story she has one embarrassing (but certainly not life altering or life ending) experience in a grocery store due to her illness and the only thing she can think to do is plan how to end her own life! So she has 5 days left to spend with the one's she loves because she's planning to kill herself! She claims she's committing suicide to spare others around her having to watch her demise but it's clear from the way she is SO HUMILIATED by the stupidest things (like having to go into to a store buy adult diapers...seriously??? who freaking cares!!???) that she is actually ending her life because can't handle the thought of anyone thinking she is anything less than perfect!
I could go on but I won't. Bottom line is, I don't get the other rave reviews. Selfish, unlikable characters aside this book has no point, it is boring, it is predictable and it is very depressing. I would not recommend it to anyone!
Canadian girl in Kansas, love audible, books on kindle or kindle fire, and old fashioned books! I enjoy fiction most, mostly books with strong female leads. Favourite authors: Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Wally Lamb, Pat Conroy, Andre Dubus III, Lisa Genova, many more!
We start out with a promise- someone is going to kill herself in 5 days. Then, we start to find out why. The main character- lawyer, wife, mother- has been diagnosed with Huntington's disease which is absolutely devastating. However, she has made plans for the past four years to commit suicide on a certain date, and by God she is going to stick to her guns.
The male voice starts talking- and in Detroit we have a teacher who has fostered a young boy and is soon giving him back to his recovering addict mother.
The two stories don't really connect other than the woman and man know each other from a message board.
The stories are polarized- and every single thing that happens to this poor woman is discussed and talked about until it got to the point where I stopped feeling sorry for her and started getting very irritated with her and her situation. For example, she loses bladder control while she is shopping and there is at least a 40 minute discussion on how she got paper towels to help clean her up and how a woman helped her and how a child gawked, and how the urine smelled so horribly, and on and on- and then she has to go buy adult diapers- and another hour is taken up by how they feel, and how she is bothered by them, and how they don't feel right, etc etc. I honestly had to stop listening to this book.
I really was excited to have a great listen- but this book is boring and dull and the characters are completely self indulgent and I certainly don't recommend it to anyone who actually enjoys audio books.
I just don't understand how it has such good reviews- or maybe I am being obtuse. At any rate- I didn't like this book.
I am in no way a tearful person and this book put a lump in my throat. It's heart wrenchingly uplifting if that makes any sense. A straight through thought provoking story and the narration was wonderful.
Marriage and Family Therapist
The character Mara was so narcissistic. I couldn't understand why any of the other characters liked her, unless it was her illness that made her so icky. But if that was the case, it would have helped to see who she was before her symptoms kicked in. Similarly, the supporting character, Laurie (sp?), in the other story was depicted in a way that garnered no sympathy. Then suddenly at the end, both women have these turn arounds that come without any development. And why are there two stories? There isn't enough to hold them together. And then the men were portrayed as saints to their wives shrews. Really dissatisfying.
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