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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

On My Personal Top 50 Of All Time

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.

34 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Emotionally Moving

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!

28 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Perhaps My Expectations Were Too High

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.

37 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Ambivalent

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.

18 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very good read

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.

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Beth
  • Studio City, CA
  • 04-07-16

Emotionally Engaging and Moving Story

What did you like best about this story?

Mara's journey into the disease was very raw and real. I loved the unexpected relationship she developed with Harry during the last week. Lastly I thought it was smart writing to balance Scott's story and journey with Mara's.

What does Rebecca Lowman and Kirby Heyborne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I so enjoy Rebecca's narration that I specifically ordered this book because I'd listened to a few other books she narrated and really like her tone, emotion and cadence. She really brings the characters to life for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it!

This was a great story. You will find yourself questioning what you would do if faced with this situation.

10 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Heart wrenching but great!

This book was fantastic. I ended up loving the characters and shed a tear or two throughout the book. “AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY”

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

deeply emotional

Hardest decisions ever. Love the depth of poignancy. Love spills off of every page.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Lost interest after Chapter 4

Would you try another book from Julie Lawson Timmer and/or Rebecca Lowman and Kirby Heyborne ?

Not sure

What could Julie Lawson Timmer have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Have better narrators.Clarify characters better.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Once I got to Chapter 4 - not really sure who the characters were and didn't like narrating - couldn't distinguish voice from male/female characters.Couldn't follow what was going on. Lost interest

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Only got to Chapter 4 - wanted to return it for credit but couldn't.

Any additional comments?

I really don't care for male narrators - so will not get books that are narrated by males. I've tried and end up returning the books.