Sixty Days Left by Andrea Lechner-Becker
Sixty Days Left is the debut novel of author Andrea Lechner-Becker (whom you may have seen drop a few reviews here on RaeOvSun). I was very engaged with Andrea’s writing voice as a reviewer so I highly anticipated the release of this work of literature. The premise is that of the terminally ill heroine, Willow, whom has chosen the path of assisted suicide to take control of when she will leave this world following receipt of her diagnosis. She decides to keep a journal for every day of her last sixty days of life. The story opens on day sixty and works its way backward.
Sixty Days Left is featured on one of our club’s webisodes of Conversations Over Coffee and it received mix reviews from the group. Not everyone was sure of how to take Willow in as a character but for me personally I felt that receiving a diagnosis such as cancer puts things into perspective for us but it doesn’t mean that we aren’t still human, won’t make mistakes or even still make selfish decisions. Willow is flawed and at times not even likeable but as a reader I felt like that was important to keep her genuine. She’s like one your friends that is sarcastically hilarious but routinely makes sh*tty decisions and all you can do is shake your head at her with a laugh and keep loving her. If she had been painted as a Cinderella, absolutely perfect, yes the whole ordeal would have been even uber sad to watch but at the same time I don’t think she would have been relatable. I think that is true of most of the supporting characters as well.
Her husband, though you sympathize with him, has serious problems that he is not appropriately addressing and has made Willow his crutch and ultimately made her feel trapped within the relationship. Enter her old flame and they’re checkered past and an instant conflict as you are taken through their connection, disconnection, and reconnection which occurs during her marriage. These are the moments that make you question if she’s a good person or not. Would you have done the same? What decisions would you make if this were you. You want to be high and mighty and say no, not me, but at the same time if time is limited, you’re not happy, and you just want to feel again before you go would that make things different?
So much is left unsaid in this novel but it is with purpose. It makes you think about the relationships that you have with people and what their worth really is to you. Do you fix what is broken or do you leave things as they are? That is really my takeaway from this novel. It is about the relationships that we foster. If there is one thing about this book that I did not like, however, it would have to be the conclusion. At the end I was expecting to see Willow at that point where she was receiving the diagnosis from her doctor. I know the point was that you’re reading her journal, you’re not getting the full picture, but the impact for me would have been greater if I could have read that moment and shared in that experience. It would have brought this story full circle for me and it was the one BIG missing piece for me as a reader. I feel like this is an important novel to read but you can’t go into it thinking it’s going to be a beach read or a fairytale spin on terrible circumstances. This is a fictional snapshot of someone’s real life experience and choices which will leave you asking – could you do it?