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Five Days Left

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  6,182 ratings  ·  1,048 reviews
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
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Berkley (first published September 9th 2014)
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Jan Marie Because she knew he'd spend the rest of his life treating her like the villain. She should have left him, IMHO.…moreBecause she knew he'd spend the rest of his life treating her like the villain. She should have left him, IMHO. (less)

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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,182 ratings  ·  1,048 reviews

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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read and enjoyed Julie Lawson Timmer's Untethered last year, and I had actually bought this book first. Unfortunately, I filed it away in the "sad books" category in my own head and was waiting for the "right time" to read it. Thank goodness I finally found the right time because I felt deeply connected to the two storylines.

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
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loathed
Hand me the mop, the bottle overturned and syrup is dripping all over the place. Where’s the electric, where’s the zap, all I got was gooey sap! But that’s not all. Snooze city! Boring people leading boring lives in the boring ‘burbs. It has been hard to even rally the juices to write a review, this book is so mind-numbing.

The story is about Mara, a woman with a terminal illness who is giving herself five days to decide whether to off herself. You might wonder how this could be boring, but it
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
My Review: Have you ever finished a book and needed time to digest it afterwards? A book that has made you think? A book that has ravaged you emotionally so that you're in shock afterwards?

This book did that to me.

Five Days Left was a glimpse into the private lives of two families as they struggle to come to terms with the fact that there are things in their lives that they cannot control. While both story lines were weaved together well, it was Mara's story that was at the forefront. Not that
Elyse  Walters
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve owned this book for years.
While gathering some books together to give away - I came across this paperback.

I had read “Untethered” by Julie Lawson, ... Canadian born- a few years ago - and remembered liking her book.
Funny... I re-read my old review of “Untethered” just seconds ago...
I made a comment about the author possibly being overzealous in covering too many topics in one book - but I definitely enjoyed it.

Julie may have been a little overzealous again ( actually this was her first
According to Wikipedia:

Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline and behavioral symptoms. It typically becomes noticeable in mid-adult life.

And after reading Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer, who is a Canadian author, I can't stop myself from penning down the following spectacular and moving poem written by an anonymous boy for his "Huntington's-stricken" mother:

She tried to hide it,
But it didn’t
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
I just finished this book today. Read it in just over two days. Would have read in one sitting but life always gets in the way. Very well written. Both subjects very emotional and all characters so very loveable. I look forward to more from Julie Lawson Timmer!
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommend
I bought this book when it first came out in paperback thinking that it might be an interesting read. Wow! This book hooked me from the start and never let go.

Mara is an ambitious attorney, happily married and mother of an adorable, adopted little girl. When she slowly realizes that there is something terribly wrong with herself, and gets a disastrous diagnosis, she makes a decision that she may have to leave everyone she loves.

Scott is a middle school teacher who is fostering a young boy while
Sherri Thacker
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have had this book on my to-be-read list since December 2015!! It finally came in to my library so I was excited to start reading it. It actually involves 2 separate stories in this one book. One story is very raw and emotional about Huntington’s Disease and it sure opened up my eyes about this awful disease. The other story was about a foster family and although I didn’t care for this part of the story as much as Mara’s story, I did end up loving both stories in the end. This is my 2nd book I ...more
Natalia Sylvester
Five Days Left is a story that grabs you from the first sentence and stays with you after the last page. As I read about Mara's story I found myself constantly wondering (and not knowing the answer to) what I would do if I were in her position. I thought about Scott and his wife and Little Man constantly, wishing they were a way for each one of them to get what they so longed for. I found myself appreciating small moments of my days, little quirks I noticed in my family. To me that's what good ...more
Thank you First-Reads for providing me with an advanced reader's copy of Five Days Left!

Not the most exciting book in the world.. I've got to be honest about that. It was sad but not in a way that felt memorable, or especially authentic either. More in a way that was just downright depressing. I never quite got the connection between, or even the basic reason for, the two rotating story lines. I almost felt like it might have made more sense for the author to write two entirely different books-
Melissa Seng
I'm so very happy that I won a copy of this book from Goodreads Firstreads. I'd definitely say, this is the best book I've read all summer, so far. Julie Lawson Timmer nailed it. While reading, you could actually feel how each character felt. So many different emotions felt all at once.
This was a story of sacrifice. Emotionally and physically. About relationships. About love. About fear.
Timmer's debut has me wanting much more from her. I can't wait to pass this along to friends so we can
Lori Spielman
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of this beautiful novel. I say pleasure, though I can't remember the last time a book made me cry so hard. Julie Lawson Timmer brilliantly interweaves two tales of heartbreak and human endurance, creating a deeply moving, unforgettable story that’s impossible to put down. Five Days Left is a lesson in compassion and grace--begging the question, "Would I have enough compassion to spare those I love?" Thought-provoking and controversial, book clubs ...more
Rhiannon Johnson
I've said before that I never wanted to suffer through a degenerative disease and have discussed end of life arrangements with my family but it still never seems "real." While reading this novel, I really felt the desperation of Mara. Her body is slowly betraying her and she must decide whether to end her own life or continue to deteriorate to a point where she will no longer be able to make that decision for herself. The second storyline of Scott's makes me consider another hypothetical ...more
Mary Kubica
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning debut! Imagine you have five days left to decide whether or not to take your own life before a horrible disease known as Huntington's does it for you. Imagine you are a devoted foster parents to a young boy who - in five days - will return to his mother. FIVE DAYS LEFT follows the lives of two families as they explore the ins and outs of these five days, while examining how they came to be in these positions in life. It is a beautiful book, a wonderful testament to one's own ...more
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kats by: Jo Ann
A clear and clever structure to an extremely emotional read. As the countdown to these two people's last "Five Days" started, I felt myself becoming more and more invested in their and their loved ones' lives and barely managed to hold back the tears.
A good book for me to listen to whilst I'm in hospital having (partially prophylactic) surgery for a treatable cancer. It certainly makes me feel lucky that I'm not trying to live (or make a quick but dignified exit from) a hard life with an
I vacillated between whether I liked or disliked Mara and Scott. Mara has Huntington's Disease and her future is bleak. Scott and his wife have taken in a young boy, Curtis, for a year while his mother is in jail. Mara plans to end her life, and Scott wants to keep the boy. For each there were moments of unconditional love, but also many instances of selfishness. Is Mara's family truely better off without her? Is her choice for them, or for herself? What would I choose? For Scott, I understood ...more
Judy Collins
A special thank you to "First to Read" Penguin Books for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Julie Lawson Timmer’s powerful debut novel, FIVE DAYS LEFT, an emotional, bittersweet and poignant portrayal of two different individuals and families, linked only by an online forum, both struggling with uncontrollable and gripping circumstances; insurmountable, each wrapped with deep emotion, and affliction, while facing fear and the ultimate sacrifice for those they love, and hold dear to their
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Five Days Left" a contemplative reflection of Mara, a young lawyer who is challenged by a recent diagnosis of Huntington's Disease; and Scott, a school teacher who is a foster parent to Curtis, an eight year old boy, who has only five days left in his care; before returning to his biological mother. This well written debut novel is authored by Julie Lawson Timmer. Many thanks and appreciation to Amy Einhorn Books for the ARC of this book for review, and for sponsoring the Goodread Giveaways.

Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't get past the assumptions regarding adopted and/or foster children that were voiced in the book. I don't agree that it's "better that children be with their biological parents" as a hard fact. I was adopted and thank God everyday that I was. I have gone onto to have children and grandchildren. I would not be who I am today without my Mom and Dad who adopted, loved and raised me
Gwendolyn Womack
This novel is beautiful, honest, heartfelt, and heart wrenching… so many things. It's a powerful story that grabs you at page one. By the story's end, after you have taken the journey with these characters, Five Days Left will make you think about your own life and value the day you are living.
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not one of those books that I want to run around yelling to everyone that they should read. It isn't a bad book, but rather an emotional one where the characters spend a lot of time reflecting on their own lives, the choices they have and will make and ultimately, it is kind of sad.

Still, the author put a lot of effort into creating characters that anyone could identify with and feel something for, and I was glad I read this book. I learned a lot about a disease that I formerly knew
Laura Kay Bolin
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a tough story. A mother, Mara, who is losing control of her life due to Huntington’s Disease and contemplating ending her life to save her husband and young daughter from having to see her digress more and more. Then there is Scott, a soon to be father who has taken temporary custody of a troubled young boy only to have to have return him to his mother soon. Neither of these topics are light and fluffy. This is a bold and thoughtful story that is
Honest, thoughtful, bold and beautifully tragic, Five Days Left is a story of impossible goodbyes, heartbreak, love and loss, and learning to let go. The story of life and death, relationships, bonds and choices. Profoundly affecting, memorable and insightful, this book made a huge impression on me and I know I won't be able to get it out of my head for a very long time.

The story follows two plot lines that, though separate from each other and dealing with different subject matter, are also
Review originally posted:Traveling With T

This book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration.

Five Days Left

We all know that we are going to die one day- but for Mara- she has decided the when and how. Mara has been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease- and wishes to pass away before the disease progresses to a point that she has no control over her body. With five days left before her deadline, Mara begins to consider things. Can she leave her husband and her daughter? Her mother and
Kelly Hager
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the most part, I absolutely loved this book. I thought it was incredibly well-written and I loved the plot (with its questions of what I would do if I had a terminal illness and knew the decline was starting to get faster and what I would do if I thought I was going to have to lose someone that I had raised for a year). This is a fantastic book, one that I genuinely think people should read. (And it's ideal for book clubs.)

And then there was this: Mara says she believes that, because her
Mary Kenyon
There should be a warning label on this book: Do not read if you have a debilitating illness because by book's end, suicide looks like the intelligent, loving choice in that type of situation. I couldn't put the book down, it's true, which means the author is an excellent writer, but there is much to be said for using that ability for good, not evil. And yet. The character does admit she has held no beliefs in God or a hereafter, so why not? Why not kill yourself? The husband and the daughter ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings on this book. On the one hand, the subject matter was a difficult one for an author to tackle and I commend her for her efforts. This is a story about an individual's right to end her life early after having been diagnosed with Huntington's Disease. This is a disease I didn't know much about, so I learned about what an awful, debilitating disease this is. I felt for the main character, Mara. But at the same time, I didn't like her. I thought she was crude and abrasive at ...more
May 24, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, my. I wanted to like this book. It seemed emotionally raw...and I like that kind of writing. But it turned out that the novel was about a very raw and difficult subject--a woman who discovers she has Huntingdon's disease, and that it presented the character, her husband, and the disease in a completely trite way. I skimmed, and tried over and over to be engaged, and while the subject grabbed me, there wasn't a single sentence that made me think this was a real person. One of my sons has made ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Five Days Left is an emotional and touching story about life and death and the sacrifices that are made for the sake of ones family and relationships.

There are two plot lines--two different journeys that are totally separate yet connected and intertwined. The story of Mara is sad and heart wrenching as she goes from a healthy and strong woman to a woman who discovers she has a fatal disease and needs to rely on the help of family and friends. Mara has a loving and wonderful husband and a
Susan Peterson
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful story of love and choices

Five Days Left is one of the most powerful, heart-wrenching books I've ever read. From the first page to the last, the stories of Mara and Scott will pull on your heartstrings, laughing, crying, loving, and feeling all the emotions on the page. Mara is a young wife and mother who was diagnosed with Huntington's Disease 4 years earlier. Her disease has reached a point from which she feels there is no return, and that nothing awaits her future, or her family's
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Julie Lawson Timmer grew up in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, and now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband Dan, their children and two badly-behaved rescued dogs. By turns, she is an author, lawyer, mom/stepmom, and fledgling yogi. She is the author of FIVE DAYS LEFT (Putnam 2014), UNTETHERED (Putnam 2016) and MRS. SAINT AND THE DEFECTIVES (coming August 1, 2017 from Lake Union).

“He didn't need someone to fix the problem - there was no fixing it. He needed someone to acknowledge his feelings. Accept his pain. Agree that his heart was broken, and that it should be. And that it might stay broken for a long, long time.” 2 likes
“Scott's friends on the forum didn't know his big picture. They read a phrase like "It's going to kill me to live without him" for its precise meaning, and nothing else. They didn't read more than those nine words into the message. They didn't take offense, didn't try to talk him out of it. Didn't resent it for its presumed relativity.

"Of course it is," they said. And it was the same way they'd responded to every other thing he'd told them about himself: his thoughts on parenting, on marriage and sex, on education and race. They read what he wrote, and only what he wrote, and they responded. Not always in agreement - he'd had plenty of heated discussions over the past year on this issue or that. But he didn't need yes-men any more than he needed someone to read twenty-one extra words into the nine he'd written.”
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