Summary (from Goodreads):
“Destined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.
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.“
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 daughter is adopted, she won’t be completely devastated when she’s gone. She believes that she is essentially just a replacement for her daughter’s biological mom and that means that when her husband eventually remarries, her daughter will probably be fine with it because the stepmom will be a replacement for the replacement.
I obviously get that Mara is saying that because it’s what she wants to believe. She wants to believe that her daughter will be okay, so that she can kill herself with as little guilt as possible. She doesn’t really mean it; she’s just saying it because it’s the only way she can justify it.
I’m adopted and my dad died when I was in high school. There was no part of me that thought, “Well, at least I still have my real dad, somewhere out in the world.” My real dad is the guy that raised me, and I don’t care that we aren’t related by blood. I love my maternal biological family and I treasure my relationship with them, but it’s not the same as the relationship I had with my dad or that I have with my mom and the rest of my family. And even though I get that Mara was just trying to tell all the lies she had to tell to be able to continue on, I resent everything that she said.
But that’s one paragraph in an otherwise amazing story. I still recommend it.