- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (August 4, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780425277935
- ISBN-13: 978-0425277935
- ASIN: 0425277933
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 277 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Five Days Left Paperback – August 4, 2015
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Mara is a successful lawyer, and devoted wife and mother. Struggling with a devastating illness, she has set herself five days to make the ultimate decision for her family. Scott lives a thousand miles away, and is a foster parent to a troubled eight-year-old. Scott is facing his own five day countdown until his beloved foster son is returned to his biological mother. The two connect through an online forum, and find a friendship to help guide them through the most difficult, and momentous, week of their lives.
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Mara's life collapses when she is diagnosed with Huntington's, a horrific disease that causes one's body and brain to shut down, ultimately leading to death. Sometimes called Huntington's Chorea, it is characterized by continuing memory loss, as well as increasing involuntary loss of body control.
As the disease progresses, Mara has several mortifying experiences which cause her to question living through the stages of Huntington's, ultimately leading to life in a nursing home with no memory, until her body completely shuts down. She cannot bear the thought of her loving husband and precious daughter making obligatory visits to a facility to see a once brilliant lawyer and loving wife and mother flailing her limbs with no knowledge of her family's identity. She realizes that she must make a decision while her mind is still functioning.
Scott and his pregnant wife are foster parents to a young boy from the inner city, whose mother is in jail for a year. He is passionate about the boy and his older brother and cannot bear to return him to his mother. His wife, an unsympathetic character, is anxious for Scott to focus on his "real" family, which she feels cannot happen while Little Man is under her roof. They, too, have a decision to make.
The book is well written, but for various reasons, I felt emotionally detached. The chat room for me was merely a contrivance that gave the author a vehicle to tell two otherwise unrelated stories. I should have felt great sympathy for Mara, but she began to annoy me. With all her thoughts about the wonders of the chat room and her closeness to Scott, she never told anyone about her plight. From personal experience, I know how anonymous chat rooms can offer support, but that assumes that the participants are open and honest. She was neither.
Scott was perhaps too zealous and altruistic. Of all the characters, though, I found him the most sympathetic. His wife left me cold.
The ending was predictable, almost from the beginning. Perhaps I had a problem with the length of the book. Although I read it overnight, I felt like five days had passed. The constant repetition was tiresome, and I found myself saying, "Get on with it already."
This book will have a large audience because I know that I am expressing a minority opinion. To me, Five Days Left is Jodi Picoult Lite.
Mara has been diagnosed with Huntington's Disease, and Scott has spent the last year being the best foster parent ever. As I walked through Five Days with each of these characters and their families, I found myself repeatedly asking - what would I do in their shoes? This book would make the perfect book club read because there are so many points of discussion - foster families/adoption, degenerative illnesses and marriage, illnesses and families/parenting, and many others.
I'm hesitant with sad books. I'm skeptical because I've read many that end up feeling trite or even just too easy. There was never an easy or pat moment. The writing was raw at times. It was moving. It was engaging, and it was tender. It was honest and powerful, and I'm so grateful that I read it.