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. (from Amazon.co.uk)
Published August 2014 by Century
I usually love a book told from two view points. I find alternating narratives over chapters really pushes the book on. So I was expecting that to happen with this book, especially after being drawn into Mara's story so much at the beginning. Unfortunately though it didn't really work for me this time, and I felt Scott's story added nothing to the book whatsoever. In fact it could've been cut completely.
If I was rating this book on Mara's sections alone it would be verging on 5 stars. I loved how the author took a difficult and upsetting subject and portrayed Mara as strong and very, very real. She doesn't sugar coat and play on emotions...it's told how it is, often brutally so. Huntington's is a relentlessly cruel disease and for me Mara's reactions to her illness; her fear, resentment and anger, where convincing and heart breaking.
Scott's story in itself isn't all that terrible, and I could also sympathise with his situation. The problem that I had was that the link between these two characters is tenuous at best. The idea is that they are both facing a five day countdown and connect over an internet forum. The truth is, this seems to have been forgotten about in the book and communication between the two involves a couple of PM's, which are pretty vague and don't add anything to the story at all. This could've worked. Instead we're left with two underdeveloped stories, Scott's in particular as the book is heavily weighted in Mara's favour. I think the author made a mistake sharing Mara's story with Scott's. I'd have much rather have seen it split with Harry, a taxi driver Mara makes a connection with. Now he was interesting. The trouble was taken to even give him a back story, and I see this as a wasted opportunity.
I feel I'm being particularly negative, yet I do think for the most part (as I'd say Mara's story does cover at least two thirds) this was a really good, well written and touching book. I just wish the author had fully committed to Mara and left Scott for her next book. It really let the book down in my opinion. Regardless, I would look out for other work by this author in the future.
My copy was a free advance reader through the Amazon Vine Program