I only have a couple of weeks left of my summer break, and while I’m excited to start my second year of grad school (even if it’s only 50% in person) it means I’ll have less time to read and review books in my free time. So I’m trying to get as much reading in as possible, though I’m planning on continuing my Harry Potter re-read this fall!
Let me start out by saying that In Five Years isn’t my usual genre. In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m usually a YA fantasy type of reader.
Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads in case you’re interested:
“Where do you see yourself in five years?
When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.
But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.
After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.
That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.”
I really enjoyed the first half of the book. Rebecca Serle’s writing is good, and the beginning sucked me into the story. I thought Dannie was an interesting, flawed character. And I thought the theme of not letting your panned idea of life getting in the way of your actual life was good.
But the second half is where the story began to become too melodramatic for me. A lot of the events just didn’t really make sense. The story becomes more focused on friendship, which I liked, but it didn’t really align with the beginning of the book. I don’t want to give too much away, but the ending felt like Serle saying “I’m trying to put as many plot twists as possible to make my ending not predictable.” But to me, it felt cliche and like a cop-out. This book had the potential to deal with the themes and Dannie’s problems in a profound way, but the Hallmark movie ending took away what could’ve been a much more powerful message.
I could handle Bella’s cancer diagnosis. I wasn’t expecting a cancer story, but I thought Serle handled it with care despite the fact that it also felt like killing off Bella was the only way to make her plot work.
The fact that the apartment ended up being an apartment that Bella got for Dannie was weird, especially because she got the apartment for Dannie before Bella knew she was dying…? And before Dannie broke up with David?
The whole backstory of Bella’s mother telling Dannie that she knew they were destined to be best friends so she enrolled Bella in Dannie’s school was so weird and unnecessary.
Having Dannie’s little brother die and then having Bella die was a little much, like somehow the brother’s death was supposed to foreshadow Bella’s.
And, of course, having Dannie and Aaron’s relationship actually be a weird one-time stand brought on by grief from Bella’s death…yikes. That didn’t sit right with me at all.
Finally, the very end. Oh boy. With some suspended disbelief, I could deal with everything else. But the fact that Dannie feels weird about getting with Aaron because of Bella, but then gets together with Bella’s oncologist…That was such a cheap ending. And unfortunately, the ending of a book is what sticks with you.