“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.”
A friend called and said, “I just read this book and I don’t know what to think about it. Will you read it?” What, a book that causes mystery and consternation in the reader? Sign me up! And that’s how I came upon “In Five Years,” by Rebecca Serle. And I can safely say that when I finished it, I wasn’t sure what to think about it either.
Dannie Kohan is a lawyer who lives her life by numbers. She is an exacting woman—on the first page we learn that every morning she counts to twenty-five before opening her eyes, that it takes her thirty-six minutes to get ready in the morning and eighteen minutes to walk to work. She has also planned her future in numbers: you should be twenty-four before moving in with a man, twenty-eight to get engaged, thirty to get married. To say Dannie is precise is an understatement.
We meet Dannie at twenty-eight and on the verge of getting engaged to her boyfriend, David. She is also going to the most important job interview of her life at the prestigious Watchell Law Firm. Life is moving along just as Dannie planned. She nails the interview and David does a perfect proposal at the famed Rainbow Room that night. What could go wrong?
That evening in the afterglow of the engagement, Dannie falls asleep and wakes up in a strange apartment, with a strange man, and a strange engagement ring on her finger. She discovers it is 2025, 5 years in the future. She also discovers she is deeply attracted to this man named Aaron; no last name. As they settle in for a night of passion, she jolts awake to the present, next to David but decidedly different inside herself than when she fell asleep.
Fast forward 4 and a half years and we discover that Dannie got the job and she and David are still engaged, just not married. That dream still haunts Dannie and is keeping her from setting a date—it doesn’t take a degree in psychology to see through that logic. She meets up and talks a lot with her bohemian, jet-setting friend Bella. Bella is the exact opposite of Dannie—she dates lots of men and lives an extravagant day-by-day lifestyle. The two are opposite sides of a coin; one regimented and stoic, the other unconventional and carefree. So, while life seems to be moving on in its normal time frame, one thing keeps weighing on Dannie’s mind. That night 4 and a half years ago. The one that is fast approaching her now.
Dannie’s dream/premonition and current life finally collide when Bella brings round a new boyfriend, and one she is serious about. His name is Greg. Well, Aaron Gregory. THE Aaron. And it’s here that Dannie’s worlds collide. It’s obvious that Bella is truly in love with Greg/Aaron and that he is in love with her. The situation is so startling to Dannie that she finally decides on a wedding date—to David’s surprise—and attempts to plan her wedding while wrestling with feelings for Aaron. When Bella discovers she is pregnant around the same time, Aaron shows Dannie an apartment he is renovating for Bella (yes, it’s THAT apartment), Dannie seriously starts to unravel.
This all happens during the first half of the book. What comes next are two plot twists and yes, the answer to whether the past becomes the present. I’m not going to tell you what that is because, well first of all it would be a spoiler and second of all, it’s the twists that make it hard to know what to think about “In Five Years.” Did I just read a love story? Between who? Or is it a woman-empowerment story? Or a story about ambition and success?
I called my friend after finishing it and agreed with her. I really don’t know what to think about it. If it were nuanced and gorgeously written, I may have loved it. But then again, the relationship between Dannie and Bella is genuinely written. The New York City setting was fun if not a bit touristy in the description. The glow of love surrounded Bella and Aaron. The chill of frustration cloaked Dannie and David. Throw in some random plots surrounding work, family and wedding planning and you’ve got a whole lot of different things happening when just a couple would have sufficed. Some of those ideas resonated. Some did not.
So now that two of us are stumped… what do YOU think?
Thanks for reading!