“Along with naming me Marguerite after her favorite daisy, Mama gave me
three things: red hair that hasn’t faded. A love of nature. And a belief that
somewhere between heaven and earth there is magic.”


Twenty synopsis

At age fifty-five, Meg’s life is too filled with loss for her to remember what magic feels like. All she has left is a yard brimming with plants that are wilting in the scorching Iowa summer—and a bone-deep feeling that she’s through with living.

Meg has something else too: a bottle of mysterious pills, given to her years ago by an empathetic doctor. He promised that they would offer her dying mother a quick, painless end in exactly twenty days. Though her mother never needed them, Meg does. But a strange thing happens after Meg swallows the little green pearls . . .

Now that she’s decided to leave this world, Meg is rediscovering the joy in it. She sheds everything she no longer needs—possessions, regrets, guilt—and reconnects with those she cares for. Finally confronting the depth of her grief, she’s learning that love runs deeper still. But is it too late to choose to stay?

Q. What do you hope readers will gain from Twenty?

A. Hopefully a good read, first of all. I love the characters in this book and think readers will fall in love with them, too. Mostly, though, I hope readers will feel like this book is in some way about their life—and maybe can give them a fresh perspective on it. The pain and joy in the story exist side by side, just as they do in our lives. But in the end, it’s all about seeing every moment as the gift that it is.     —Debra Engle


I’m so excited and honored to receive a great review of Twenty on Booklist. Here’s my favorite excerpt:

“In less than two hundred pages, the author delivers a thought-provoking story about what it means both to live and die. Although short, Twenty offers plenty for discussion, making it a great pick for book groups.”

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“This is one of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. Calling this beautiful story ‘heartfelt’ and ‘deeply spiritual’ doesn’t begin to do it justice. I cried. I felt happy. I thought about the loss and grief I’ve endured. And I found the inspiration that every grieving person desperately searches for—a reason to go on, knowing there can still be joy.”
—Pamela Wallace, novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Witness

“Debra Landwehr Engle leads us on a beautiful and thoughtful journey, written with such strong and heartfelt faith in the magic and power of never ending love, it will renew your own.”
—Judy Reene Singer, author of In the Shadow of Alabama

“When deaths and unwanted divorce are too much to bear, middle-aged Meg decides she’s done with life in Twenty, Debra Landwehr Engle’s succinct and loving debut. But the ardent gardener, fighting literal and spiritual drought, is unable to sustain despair, discovering a vibrant joy and permeable boundary between living and dying, and gifting readers with a fresh and memorable take on regret.”
—Bestselling Author Lynne Hugo

Twenty is a compelling story of love and life, truth and magic, grief and starting over. I read it on a rainy day and loved it.”
—Cathy Lamb, author of The Man She Married

Twenty reminds us to live with our hearts wide open even when they’ve been broken, and how to love even when it hurts. Readers will find hope from this sentimental story about the many ways life can wreck us, and why it’s still a beautiful journey in spite of it all.”
—Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of Perennials

“The best books stay with you long after the cover is closed. Twenty was that kind of book for me. It made me look at my life differently and think hard about how I live each day.”
—Jessica Pack, As Wide As the Sky

Twenty is a book to hold against your heart long after the last page is turned. It’s a boldly imagined story of a woman’s journey through profound loss, illuminating her path along the painful and joyous byways of love and forgiveness. The unexpected ending will leave you breathless—and inspired to appreciate life’s every moment.”
—Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Reading Twenty is like walking into what C. S. Lewis called the ‘thin place’—that land so close to Heaven, you can practically touch it. Engle takes us through an emotional struggle in which life and death are the two prizefighters, making us believe there is so much more behind the comedies and tragedies of our lives.”
—David Paul Kirkpatrick, former President of Paramount Pictures, former Production Chief of Walt Disney Studios