- 255 pages
- Rebecca Serle
- Age-up Trope
- Friendship & Family
- Published in 2021
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Dannie Kohan, a lawyer in New York City, has a plan. In her mid-twenties, she lives her life by numbers. She knows exactly how long it will take her to make junior partner, how many years until she is married to her partner, David, and how many minutes it will take her to get to work from her future Gramercy Park apartment. When Dannie’s asked the age-old question at the most important interview of her entire career (and future), she knows exactly what she’ll say.
Yet, hours later, after the most impactful day of her life so far, she goes to sleep, ready to dream of a big bright future. Instead, she awakens in a different apartment, with a strange ring on her finger, to a stranger. She quickly learns, she is five years into her future and it’s nothing like she expected.
When Dannie re-awakens an hour later in her present life, she’s not sure what to think. She tries to bury herself into her career and her relationship, living as if the dream never existed. Yet, it’s something she just can’t seem to get off her mind. Four and a half years go by and it seems like Dannie won’t have to re-live her strange moment in the future, until her spontaneous, fun-loving best friend introduces her to a man—the very stranger from her long-ago dream.
In Five Years is difficult to categorize. I have recognized this novel through beloved TikTok videos, on the bookshelves in the romance aisle of Barnes & Noble, and even recommended to me online based on other books I’ve read. This particular story doesn’t fit into a box—It’s certainly one of a kind, and it’s not like any other that I’ve read.
The plot line of this novel is seemingly simple—the book jacket describes it as a romance, with a neurotic main character that deals with unexpected events. It seems rather straight-forward, no? Half-way through the book, the reader starts to figure out that this novel isn’t a straight-up romance at all, but it certainly is a love story—just not the one I was expecting.
When Dannie’s best friend Bella makes appearances in the first half of the book, I blew them off, waiting for the male protagonist to appear (since he clearly was not going to be David). What I hadn’t expected? The secondary protagonist was there all along.
I’ve never been a fan of books about friendship. I often find them trite and over-rated. Yet, this novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The pure impact of Dannie and Bella’s relationship and it’s progression is one of the strongest bonds I’ve read about. Bella and Dannie and could not be more different, yet they fit into each other in all of the best ways. What I found most interesting is that Dannie appears as the collected, mature, responsible character, while Bella is described as care-free, often getting herself into less-than-ideal situations and relationships—yet it is Bella who shares the greatest wisdoms with Dannie, who clearly isn’t as established as she likes to appear.
I finished In Five Years in less than 24 hours. It’s a quick read and the sentences are short and easily put together. This novel is not one of great prose. It’s not exceptionally lyrical. The characters are not overly dimensional or greatly developed. Yet, the plot and writing style of this book fit perfectly. While the ending is a bit of a surprise to the reader, there’s nothing I would change about how this book is written. This is the kind of book that would make someone fall in love with reading again.
While there seems to be some controversy around In Five Years based on various reviews, I think it takes a certain level of diversification and tragedy to understand this plot line. I don’t think all readers are going to connect with this book. Yet, those of us who have gone through significant loss or identify with the main character’s neurotic tendencies are going to feel the impact of this story line unlike any other.
If you’ve read In Five Years, I’d love to hear your thoughts. How would you rate this book out of 5? Did you identify with Dannie and were you surprised by the ending? Let us know in the comments below.
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