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review 2016-01-14 00:00
Glorious Appearing: The End of Days (Left Behind)
Glorious Appearing: The End of Days (Left Behind) - Tim LaHaye,Jerry B. Jenkins As so many others have quoted--the series for me ended around book 5, and then the scripture passages started. This as well, left me blah. You have Tsion and Buck dying...meh...they'll come back in a few days. Raford almost dying, then miraculously coming back. The Home in Chicago was very disjointed. And then Jesus coming back, and for some reason, just reciting scripture. Very, very poor.
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review 2014-10-20 17:11
Book 356: FIVE DAYS LEFT Review
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review 2014-10-20 00:00
Five Days Left
Five Days Left - Julie Lawson Timmer 4.5 star read

Imagine you only have five days left to say goodbye to a loved one. Now imagine two different families in this situation. One family resides in Michigan and includes two foster-parents and a young boy about to be returned to his biological mother after a year. The other family resides in Texas and consists of an adoptive couple, their adopted daughter, and the adoptive mother's adoptive parents. The Texas family is dealing with a progressive and degenerative neurological disorder and the mother, although only 42 years of age, is contemplating suicide rather than giving into this horrible disease process. These two scenarios provide the foundation of the story Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer.

Mara Nichols is a young, urban professional residing in Texas. She's at the peak of her career as an attorney. Her husband, Tom, is a physician with a thriving practice. Tom and Mara have been together for more than twenty years. They adopted their daughter, Lakshmi, as an infant from India and are now the proud parents of a kindergartner. Regrettably their lives were given a major twist when Mara was diagnosed with Huntington's Disease or HD four years ago. Since that initial diagnosis, Mara has suffered from a host of HD symptoms, including short term memory loss, balance and gait issues, bladder control, mood swings, and more. She has been forced to take early retirement from her beloved career as an attorney and partner in a law firm, can no longer drive due to motor control issues, and is scared beyond belief that she is unwittingly forcing her family to suffer along with her as HD destroys who she is as a person. Mara's one saving grace is her online link to a forum for adoptive, foster, and step parents. It is in this forum that she can voice her parenting issues without question or judgment. It is here that she finds friendship with MotorCity, also known as Scott Coffman.

Scott Coffman is an English teacher at an inner city Detroit middle school. Scott also coaches basketball at his school and considers himself fortunate to have met some outstanding talent, including Brayden Jackson, his foster-son's older brother. He and his wife have been trying to get pregnant for years through IVF. Now that their lives are focused on a slightly hyperactive, mild behaviorally challenged seven-year-old boy, there's less stress about getting pregnant so of course they actually get pregnant with their last round of IVF. Scott's wife isn't exactly eager for their year of fostering to be over, but she is eager to have some time alone with her husband before their biological child is born. Scott is torn between wanting what is best for his son Curtis (when did he stop thinking of him as a foster child but as his child) and wanting to keep him to ensure he has everything a child deserves: a clean home, three meals a day, clean clothes, and involved parents.

I've got to admit that I put off reading Five Days Left simply because I thought the story was going to be depressing and morbid. It isn't. Don't get me wrong, it is sad. I don't think you can read about someone with a degenerative life-threatening disease and a child being raised in filth without basic amenities like running water by a drug-addicted mother without it being sad. But Ms. Timmer has also provided glimpses of hope amidst the sadness. Mara's story is sad and heart-wrenching, but the love her family and friends have for her and one another is uplifting. It was incredibly disturbing to read about Mara's decline due to HD (there's one incident in the grocery store and another in the elementary school that had me taking a break just to dry my eyes). I was just as torn as Scott when Curtis's biological mother decides to take him back days before he was scheduled to leave the Coffmans. What made it worse was he wasn't even given the opportunity to say goodbye.

Five Days Left is told in alternating voices of Mara and Scott. Although the action takes place over the course of five days, there's a lot jammed into those days. Yes, you'll probably need to have a box of tissues handy when you read this story, but sadness isn't the only thing you'll remember about this story. Five Days Left focuses on love and the families we make as a result of that love. Some of those families are built with blood ties, and others are built through adoption, fostering, step-parenting, and friendship. I found Five Days Left to be a remarkable story with realistic characters and scenarios. Five Days Left is simply an amazing story and I know this review probably doesn't do it justice, so if you're going to take anything away from my thoughts take this . . . you should definitely read Five Days Left.
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text 2014-09-05 18:59
Five Days Left
Five Days Left - Julie Lawson Timmer

 

By: Julie Lawson Timmer
ISBN: 039916734X
Publisher: Putman Adult
Publication Date: 09/09/2014
Format: e-book
My Rating: 5 Stars

 

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 hearts.

 

Set in Texas, Mara Nichols, (LaksMama-online name) forty-two, a successful lawyer, was adopted and unfortunately, received nothing from her biological except one nasty genetic non-curable disease, HD (discovered four years ago).

 

Now, she is struggling raising her own adoptive five year old daughter, Laks with her supportive and lovable husband, Tom, a successful dermatologist. Two motivated people who love the other to the edges of the universe and back. Two people motivated so strongly by love for the other that either of them would do anything for the other’s sake.

 

As the symptoms increase and worsen, knowing there is no cure, she begins questioning her future as well as those she loves, and how the devastating disease controls everything and affects everyone around her. How can she allow her husband and daughter to be burdened with her care, distressed, and embarrassed by her condition? Mara decides to use her upcoming birthday, in five days as the date, for the final choice.

 

“Gradual decrease in ability to perform daily activities such as work, driving, forgetfulness, eventual inability to walk, depression, anxiety, mood swings, personality changes, involuntary movements of face, body and limbs, unable to speak, swallow, perform, self-care, completely dependent on others in late stages; wheelchair, nursing home, feeding tube, limited awareness of surroundings, inability to speak, may not recognize family members; life expectancy ten to fifteen years after onset of symptoms, no effective treatment to slow progression of brain cell death. Fatal. No cure.”

 

For the past five years, Mara has chatted a few minutes almost daily with her fellow forum members, about nontraditional parenting arrangements and so much more—Friendship. With a few members she had ventured beyond group discussion and into the private world of personal messaging. This is where the two souls connect, nameless and only known by their online names.

 

Scott Coffman, (MotorCity-online name) altruistic middle school teacher has been fostering, Curtis, an eight year-old boy while the mother serves a jail sentence. In five days his time will be up, and the boy he loves desperately will be returned to his mother, in a less than desirable and unhealthy environment.

 

He and his wife, Laurie (expecting a baby) desperately make plans for the last week of time with their foster son. However, at the last minute the social worker says they have to return him early. What comes thereafter is another life altering decision.

 

As a secondary character (yet powerful) part of the story, is Harry. Harry is a cab driver, and spends a great deal of time with Mara, since she is not able to drive. The common bond of two troubled souls will bring tears to your eyes, with this breathtaking story of loss and love.

 

As the five day countdown gets closer, emotions run high and intense, testing the individual limits of human endurance, for a spellbinding story of ultimate love.

 

From detailed descriptions, to raw intense emotions as Mara is slowly stripped of her dignity and independence, the humiliation, interactions and havoc created with family members, the pain, grief, and incredible research into this disease, and the emotional fall out-- Timmer skillfully creates well-drawn characters, actions, suspense, and beautifully written letters which will grab you, warming your soul as you grieve for these characters. (The kitchen, car, and bathroom scene--an award-winning performance)!

 

An extraordinary, compelling, and moving debut novel, written with compassion, insight, and sensitivity – a winner out of the gate! I think it is time for Julie to give up her day job, as I see "bestseller" written all over FIVE DAYS LEFT and many more to come!

 

Fans of Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, Diane Chamberlain, Lisa Genova, Amy Hatvany, Kristin Hannah, and Nichols Sparks will devour, making for an ideal novel for book clubs and discussions!

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/958572750
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review 2014-09-01 00:00
Five Days Left
Five Days Left - Julie Lawson Timmer There is so much depth to Five Days Left that it is difficult to capture everything vital in a few short paragraphs. Both Scott and Mara are in the process of undergoing a radical change in their lives, and while a terminal illness and the loss of a foster child may not seem like they would have much in common, it is the love and affection they shower on others that makes them more similar than dissimilar. There is also an important side story about nontraditional parenting and some of the issues unique to nonbiological parents. It is this connection that truly binds Scott and Mara together, allowing for both stories to be told concurrently while also sharing a fabulous lesson about the need to open hearts and minds to other forms of relationships.

In many ways, Scott’s story is the palate cleanser to Mara’s very painful and highly emotional one. While the novel needs this, because to read about Mara’s struggles nonstop would be a bit too much to bear, it does not mean that Scott’s story is any less important to the message Ms. Lawson Timmer is trying to make. Sometimes, good people are put into horrible situations, and it is how they react to those situations that shows their true mettle. Such is true of Scott when he must let go of his foster son sooner than expected and then receives tragic news that could be the undoing of both his marriage and the hopes and dreams of his young ward as well as that of his protege older brother.

That being said, Mara’s story is the heart and the soul of the novel and the one part of the story that will make readers pause and reflect. Mara’s diagnosis and decline, which readers get to experience firsthand just as Mara does, is every bit as tragic and horrifying as one would imagine. Her decision to save her family from years of caregiving and to save her own dignity is at once understandable, terrifying, gut-wrenching, and controversial. Not every reader will agree with her decision and may well turn the book aside in disgust. However, no matter how strongly one feels about her decision, all readers will read with increasing concern whether she will commence with her plan or falter at the end. There are simply no easy answers to any of her problems; Therein lies the power and the drama of the novel.

Sacrifice and suicide, terminal illnesses and a long-term death sentence, biological versus nonbiological children, anonymous sharing to familial secrecy – Five Days Left covers it all. More importantly, it does not try to leave readers with definitive answers but rather allows readers to form their own opinions – something that must happen given a reader’s unique family history, individual belief systems and core values, and other personal experiences. It leaves room for all opinions while simultaneously reaching out to readers to empathize with Mara and scott before leveling judgement. That is one of the most important lessons of all.

Some novels leave readers sobbing with grief. Others leave readers pensive and full of what-if questions. Five Days Left will leave readers doing both. This should in no way intimidate readers from starting this amazing novel about love, sacrifice, and the differences between selfishness and selflessness. If anything, it is an indication of how profoundly well-written the story is to capture a reader’s heart and mind so thoroughly. In other words, it is a novel that everyone should experience.
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