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Cover of In Five Years by Rebecca SerleIn Five Years

by Rebecca Serle

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Magical Realism

Nailing a job interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie Kohan has her five-year plan on track, until she is shaken by a vision of the future where she is with a different man. Four years later, still-engaged Dannie meets the man from her vision—her best friend’s new boyfriend. Dannie tries to change the trajectory of what she believes is her future, but how much is our own free will and what is left up to fate?

Discussion Guide

Headshot of Rebecca Serle Author Biography

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives in New York and Los Angeles. She is the author of six novels and codeveloped the hit TV adaptation of her YA series Famous in Love. She received her MFA from the New School in NYC. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited relationship advice.  - Author's website

More titles by this author



Dannie has her entire life planned out—always has. So when she’s asked about where she sees herself in five years during a big interview at a New York law firm, she knows exactly what to say: she’ll be a senior associate at the firm, and she’ll be married to her boyfriend (who does, indeed, propose that very night). And, then, after returning from her engagement dinner, Dannie has an experience that flips her carefully laid plan on its head: she spends an hour in her life five years in the future. And in that life, she’s in a different apartment and with a different man. Rocked by her experience, Dannie spends the next four and a half years trying her best to stick to the plan, until the moment when the man she saw in her future appears in her life, courtesy of her best friend. Serle takes a fairly generic rom-com setup and turns it into something much deeper in this captivating exploration of friendship, loss, and love. -- Bridget Thoreson (Reviewed 2/1/2020) (Booklist, vol 116, number 11, p23).

Publisher's Weekly

Serle’s bewitching story of love and friendship (after The Dinner List) centers on a young woman who plans her life down to the minute until fate gets in the way. At 28, Dannie Kohan lives happily with her boyfriend, David, in a Manhattan apartment and is poised to land her dream job as a lawyer at a top firm. Dannie expects to get married by the time she’s 30; right on track, David proposes, giving Dannie a ring picked out by her best friend Bella. After accepting the proposal, Dannie slips into a deep sleep and dreams of an alternate future, where everything is off-kilter. In her dream, it’s the year 2025 and she lives with a man named Aaron Gregory. Upon waking, Dannie begins to second-guess her regimented course, and as the years pass, she puts off the marriage. On a rainy day in June 2025, she meets up with Bella, now a successful art dealer, and is stunned to find her accompanied by Aaron, the man from her dream. She senses a mutual recognition, and, after Bella receives devastating news, Dannie and Aaron grow closer. While the plot hinges on well-worn tropes, the deadpan prose highlights the author’s keen sense of irony. Serle’s whimsical tale is book club catnip. (Mar.) This review has been updated to remove a spoiler. --Staff (Reviewed 12/23/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 52, p).

Library Journal

Searle's second novel (The Dinner List) ponders the question: Where do you see yourself in five years? Dannie Kohan is a corporate lawyer with an orderly life. She knows the right time to focus on work, get engaged, or buy a condo. But one night she wakes up five years into the future, glimpsing a life completely altered. She meets the man in her vision four years later—he's her best friend's boyfriend—and desperately tries to shift the trajectory of what she thinks is about to happen. But the author throws in a big twist: The story is about life, love, friendship, fate, and free will, and what Dannie experienced five years earlier isn't as clear as she'd thought. The turmoil of Dannie's love life and, more important, her friendship with best friend Bella, shape this tale of a driven, logical woman faced with emotions she's never felt before. VERDICT The story has a strong New York setting and sympathetic characters. Emotional hooks alongside moments of humor and self-awareness will remind readers of Jojo Moyes's Me Before You or Taylor Jenkins Reid's Maybe in Another Life. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.] --Melanie Kindrachuk (Reviewed 12/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 11, p84).

Kirkus Reviews

After acing a job interview and accepting a marriage proposal, Dannie Kohan has had the perfect day. That is, until she awakens to find herself five years in the future with a completely different man. Just one hour in that alternate reality shakes Dannie to her core. After all, highly ambitious Dannie and her boyfriend, David, have plotted out their lives in minute detail, and the sexy man in her dream—was it a dream?—is most certainly not in the script. Serle (The Dinner List, 2018) deftly spins these magical threads into Dannie's perfectly structured life, leaving not only Dannie, but also the reader wondering whether Dannie time traveled or hallucinated. Her best friend, Bella, would delight in the story given that she thinks Dannie is much too straight-laced, and some spicy dreaming might push Dannie to find someone more passionate than David. Unfortunately, glamorous Bella is in Europe with her latest lover. Ever pragmatic, Dannie consults her therapist, who almost concurs that it was likely a dream, and throws herself into her work. Pleased to have landed the job at a prestigious law firm, Dannie easily loses her worries in litigation. Soon four and a half years have passed with no wedding date set, and Bella is back in the U.S. with a new man in her life. A man who turns out to be literally the man of Dannie's dream. The sheer fact of Aaron Gregory's existence forces Dannie to reevaluate her trust in the laws of physics as well as her decision to marry David, a decision that seems less believable with each passing day. And as the architecture of Dannie's over planned life disintegrates, Serle twists and twines the remnants of her dream into a surprising future. A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic. (Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2020). 


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