“In Five Years,” a novel by Rebecca Serle, published in March 2020, has captivated us with its unique twist on the love story genre. Celebrated as a New York Times bestseller, this novel stands out for its exploration of platonic love and the deep bonds of friendship, alongside an engaging narrative that delves into themes of loss and destiny.
The story revolves around Dannie Kohan, a corporate lawyer whose life is marked by discipline and control, traits shaped by the loss of her brother in a car accident during her childhood.
Engaged and successful, Dannie’s life takes an unexpected turn when she experiences a flash-forward to a day five years in the future.
This glimpse reveals a life vastly different from her current one, including a mysterious man who is not her fiancé. Disturbed but determined, Dannie tries to dismiss this vision from her mind.
As the novel progresses, the storyline thickens when Dannie meets this very man from her premonition.
Aaron Gregory is not just a stranger; he is her best friend Bella’s new boyfriend. This revelation sets off a chain of events, with Dannie attempting to steer clear of the future she foresaw.
She reacts by discouraging Bella from buying the apartment from her vision, hastily planning her long-postponed wedding to her fiancé, David, and maintaining a distance from Aaron.
David, Dannie’s fiancé, supports her decisions but remains wary, given the past uncertainties about their wedding plans. Despite his love for Dannie, there’s an emotional distance in their relationship, which is more about building a future than living in the present.
The novel takes a dramatic turn when Bella believes she is pregnant, only to be diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer.
As Bella battles her illness, Dannie’s need for control strains their friendship, leading to a temporary fallout.
This period of separation forces Dannie to reassess her life and the assumptions she’s held onto.
In the final stages of Bella’s illness, a pivotal moment occurs. Dannie realizes her relationship with David lacks the love he deserves, leading to their breakup.
Meanwhile, Bella, in a touching gesture, buys and decorates the apartment from Dannie’s premonition for her. After Bella’s death, Dannie and Aaron find themselves in the apartment, reenacting the night from Dannie’s vision.
However, Dannie understands that the intense emotion she felt was not love for Aaron, but grief for Bella.
1. The Illusion of Control and the Unpredictability of Life
Central to the novel is the theme of control, embodied by the protagonist, Dannie, who meticulously plans her life as a way to cope with the chaos of the world around her.
This need for control stems from her childhood trauma – the loss of her brother in a car accident. However, the story challenges this illusion of control through the unexpected twist of the premonition and the subsequent unravelling of Dannie’s carefully laid plans.
The narrative delves into how life’s unpredictability can disrupt even the most well-organized plans, leading to a profound exploration of how individuals react to and cope with changes that are beyond their control.
2. The Complexity and Depth of Platonic Love
Unlike many love stories that focus on romantic relationships, this book subverts this by centering on the platonic love between Dannie and her best friend, Bella.
The novel delves into the depths of their friendship, exploring how this platonic bond is just as complex and profound as romantic love. Through the ups and downs of their relationship, particularly highlighted during Bella’s illness, the story showcases the strength, loyalty, and deep emotional connection that can exist in friendships.
This thing is a refreshing take on love, emphasizing that non-romantic relationships can be equally transformative and central to one’s life.
3. Coping with Loss and Grief
The theme of loss permeates the novel, not just through the backstory of Dannie’s brother’s death but also in the present narrative with Bella’s illness and eventual death.
The novel provides an insightful look into how different characters cope with loss and grief. It explores the stages of grief and the different ways it can manifest, from Dannie’s need for control to her eventual acceptance and understanding of her feelings.
The portrayal of grief is nuanced, showing it as a multifaceted process that deeply affects relationships and personal growth.
The story underscores the painful yet inevitable part of life that is loss, and how it can lead to a deeper understanding of oneself and the relationships that shape us.
“In Five Years” is a thought-provoking and emotionally rich novel that beautifully subverts typical love story conventions.
It compellingly explores themes of fate, choice, and the intricate dynamics of platonic love. Rebecca Serle’s narrative artfully intertwines the unpredictability of life with the enduring strength of friendship, urging us to reflect on the importance of embracing the present and the profound impact of relationships in shaping our destinies.