If you could pick the time to leave this life, would you? If you said yes, and you had twenty days left to live, how would you spend your time?
I was sent the book Twenty, written by Debra Landwehr Engle, in exchange for an honest review. I took my time before actually reading it. I posted the obligatory, “I got book mail” photo on my social media, but I kept finding other things to read. I’ve had enough loss in my life and like to use books as an escape from reality rather than another way to view reality. But Twenty isn’t just about dying. It’s about living.
In Twenty, the reader meets Meg who, at the age of 55, has already lost her mother and daughter and is divorced. Years ago, while caring for her mother, a doctor gave her a bottle of pills that promised a “quick, painless end in exactly twenty days.” Meg did not give them to her mother, but takes them in the opening chapter of the book.
What follows is the next 20 days of Meg’s life, with a chapter dedicated to each day. The reader gets to see how she decides to spend the remainder of her time, including cleaning and reaching out to people in her life. Told between the present and flashbacks as Meg reminisces, the reader slowly gets to discover what circumstances brought Meg to taking the pills.
I read this book in about three sittings. If I had had a full day to dedicate to it, I would’ve finished it in one. It is that good. At just under 200 pages, it could be a quick read and trust me, it is a page-turner. I was annoyed every time I had to put it down because I needed to see if Meg would tell her sister or boss or friend about the pills, I wanted to continue the 20 days with Meg to see how she spent them, what realizations she had, and if I could apply anything she learned to my own life (I definitely could and will).
Twenty was well-written, well-paced, and had good characterization that made the conversations and people feel realistic. My only complaint about the novel is that I read it alone so I did not have a book club to discuss this read with, but that’s okay; that is what the internet is for, right?