FIVE DAYS by Douglas Kennedy


Five Days is one of the most intimate novels I have ever read. My word choice has nothing to do with the love affair contained within.

Like Woolf, Bannville and Cunningham, Douglas Kennedy pries open the lockbox that holds the protagonist’s deepest secrets, and in so doing, forces us to confront our own.

…what happens when, over the years, you’ve forced yourself to play a role that you privately know runs contrary to your true nature; when the mask you’ve worn for so long no longer fits and begins to hang lopsidedly, and you fear people are going to finally glimpse the scared part of you that you have so assiduously kept out of view?

Thus begins Laura’s journey.

I was instantly captivated and yet, frustrated with the lack of action. I shrugged it off as a natural response after just coming off of NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. But Laura’s unrest irritated like the itch of chicken pox and when I couldn’t set the book down, I had to ask why?

Kennedy’s rendition of Laura is equivalent to a portrait by Rembrandt. His selection of light and dark, the execution of detail, the juxtaposition of desire and obligation demands our attention.

Yes, Laura is at the bottom of unhappiness and she bemoans her situation, but her sadness doesn’t define her. She is compassionate and tolerant of other people’s weaknesses, even when she has no patience with herself. In order to salvage a marriage, which was a mistake from the start, she transformed herself into the family lifeguard, the one person who is never able to enjoy the water.

And there it is—the intimacy. As Laura separates herself from the cement of her life and explores the probability of change, Kennedy captures the loneliness and sense of failure that has crept into our society, even though we rail about how everyone knows everyone else’s business.

Loneliness is an aspect of ourselves no one wants to talk about—the cancer of our time—something so personal it’s impossible to face without fingering our own culpability. Fortunately, Douglas Kennedy has drawn a heroine with courage enough to face the truth and move through it.

Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club says, Five Days is “A brilliant meditation on regret, fidelity, family, and second chances.”  No finer blurb could’ve been written.

Delve into the intimacy of Five Days.