Shelleyrae at Book'd Out's Reviews > Ten Days

Ten Days by Janet Gilsdorf
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's review
Aug 23, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: netgalley-reviews
Read from October 07 to 08, 2012 — I own a copy

Ten Days is an emotionally charged story of marriage, parenthood and love in the face of a devastating illness. When Anna and Jake Campbell's infant son falls gravely ill, the strain breeds resentment, anger and blame. During their ten day vigil, as Eddie hovers between life and death, the survival of not only their son, but of their family, is at risk.

Told in alternating chapters from the point of view of Anna, Jake and Rose Marie, this character driven novel has a fairly simple plot that revolves around Eddie's fight for life after contracting meningitis. As Eddie grows sicker, and the characters struggle with their fears, the tension builds and emotions run high.

Parents to Eddie (6 months) and Chris (3), Anna and Jake have been married for around six years. In the opening chapter we are given a general impression of the characters, and their relationship, which seems to be a little tense largely due to their personality conflicts. The two are of very different temperaments, Anna, a linguist, is cautious and reserved while Jake, an orthopedic surgeon, is easy going and playful. Minor irritation and resentment with one's partner isn't uncommon in any marriage but under the intense stress of Eddie's illness the hairline cracks become open fissures. I thought the author's portrayal of both Anna and Jake to be authentic, their reactions are as messy as I would expect from grieving parents whose differences are magnified in a crisis. There were times when I didn't like either of them very much but they had my sympathy and my understanding.

I thought the choice to include Rose Marie, the Campbell's childminder, as a primary narrator an unusual one. While her story resonated with me, as I was a family day care carer for several years and as such I understood her fears, I didn't feel her story was linked tightly enough with the Campbell family's. Essentially it seemed to me that while Rose Marie served as possible source of the contagion and Gilsdorf wrung some tension from that suggestion, essentially you could ignore Rose Marie's chapters entirely and lose nothing in terms of the emotions or story.

The conclusion of this novel is not what you might expect but one I appreciated as I think it is realistic and fits the narrative. Ten Days is a confronting portrait of a family in crisis and a compelling read. While I am happy to recommend it, if you have a snuffly child at home, especially a baby, be warned, you may not be able to sleep for days after reading this heart rending novel.
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