BOOK REVIEW: In Five Years

In Five Years

by Rebecca Serle

“You mistake love. You think it has to have a future in order to matter, but it doesn’t. It’s the only thing that does not need to become at all. It matters only insofar as it exists. Here. Now. Love doesn’t require a future.”

My personal rating: 3 out of 5
Reading Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Reading Duration: 1 Month (11 March to 14 April 2021)

Have you ever read a book, and after reading the last line on that last page you feel the endless possibilities overwhelming you? So many possibilities, that you are stuck feeling uneasy, unable to recover from the truth that you have just been told?
This was my emotional trance after finishing In Five Years, because for all of the expectations that I had and the answers I was given I felt like I was at a loss, and yet I was given so much. The story of Dannie Kohan is satisfyingly and agonizingly appropriate in its representation of what life is. In between the pages of this book Rebecca Serle perfectly sets you up with the belief in a certain ending and then shows you every single way in which this ending seems like an impossibility.

Dannie Kohan, a simplistic and focused lawyer, thrives on routine, on knowing and planning every little thing. We are introduced to the meaning behind the novel a few pages in when the dreaded “where do you see yourself in five years?” question is asked in her interview. But for Dannie, this question is easy, it is simply a matter of facts when she replies with a well set out plan. A plan where she moves into her favorite district, where she is married to her boyfriend David and has the job of her dreams, the job she is currently being interviewed for.

The novel embraces a placid romance between Dannie and David by making it seem easy, the way in which they just accept that this is it, that the two of them will spend their lives together as is. This relationship is beautifully contrasted by Dannie’s best friend Bella, who is a living representation of romance in her very outlook of life.

The novel is set into motion with a wildly absurd dream Dannie has about a life which seem to be an alternate reality with an outcome that she would never have predicted. There is an apartment, a someone and an exact date attached to what transpired in her slumber. The dream lingers in the back of her mind for years to come, the surrealistic effect of the things she felt something that she is unable to shake. Throughout the years we experience a life with Dannie and Bella, we are shown their life and given memories of their times together in order for us to better understand this friendship that has kept them moving forward in life.

We are met with a surprise character a few years in, and just when we think we know where things are heading there is a big twist introduced at a lake house on a weekend away. The news we are given gets our hopes up, that the things seen in a dream years before is absolutely, definitely, impossible. And just when we get comfortable in this new direction the novel takes a completely unexpected turn, to a dark place, a scenario I could never have predicted, the light airiness of the book turning into a suffocating piece of realistic fiction as I take the punch in the gut.

“I saw what was coming,
but I did not see what it would mean.”

We live this life with Dannie, day in and day out, wrestling with accepting a love that has always been there, with a wild friendship that is a part of her identity and how to juggle a career hurling you forward to where your five year plan predicted that you will be, but the plan never included heartbreak, never included the loss that would change your perspective on everything.

In Five Years wonderfully portrays how fate disregards our idea of a perfect ending and, despite our efforts, steers us towards inevitable possibilities. Notice how I don’t use ending, since in life there’s always something happening next; a notion Serle based this book on.

“to any woman who has ever felt betrayed by fate or love. Hang in there. This isn’t the end of your story… Even after midnight, especially after midnight. Continue moving forward toward that which is moving toward you.”
-Rebecca Serle in her acknowledgement of In Five Years

Publisher: Atria Books (Kindle Edition)
Date Published: March 2020
Genre: Romance, Time Travel Fiction

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