By Rebecca Serle, A tear-jerker but not a romantic chick lit novel
I’ve been seeing In Five Years by Rebecca Serle around for a while, though perhaps partially a result of an aggressive marketing campaign. But since I’ve been on a continuous search for lighter reads and it reminded me of a movie I like, I thought this one would fit the bill.
What it turned out to be isn’t quite what’s advertised. It’s definitely chick lit and the storyline is intended to be emotional and moving, but it’s not actually all that romantic or even fun if that’s what you’re looking for.
(There’s a quick explainer for the ending at the end of the post. It’s hidden though, so if you don’t want spoilers, just don’t click the link.)
See the Full Plot Synopsis & Summary for In Five Years (spoilers). For the spoiler-free version:
In Five Years is about a successful and recently engaged woman, Dannie, who sees a vision of herself five years into the future. In that vision, she’s engaged and in love with a man she’s never met and living in an apartment she doesn’t recognize. It appears to be a completely different life than the one she’s currently living.
When she wakes up, life is back to normal, and she tries to write it off as a strangely vivid dream. Then, four and a half years later, she is introduced to the man from her dream.
See In Five Years on Amazon.
When I first heard about the plot of In Five Years, I thought it was going to be something similar to The Family Man, which is a movie I’ve always liked. It’s a Nicholas Cage movie where a Wall Street executive gets a glimpse of another life he could be living. It leads to rediscovering an old flame and it challenges his perception and values. It’s lighthearted, fun and a little romantic.
In Five Years, goes in a different direction. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re hoping for some romance and internal reflection, this is not that. Dannie is prestige-obsessed and clearly an elitist. When the book ends, she’s still basically the same person.
In general, the main cast of characters are all very standard, nondescript upscale rom-com caricatures. The hot hedge fund guy. The cold corporate lawyer woman. The wealthy heiress who owns an art gallery. The blond Adonis architect. They love brunch, small wine bars, walking on the High Line, good sex, fancy restaurants and live in fully renovated, modern apartments. So the beginning is mostly sort of superficial and devoid of personality. If you told me a Restoration Hardware catalog became sentient and tried to write a book, it would be something like that.
In the second half, there’s a soapy plot turn and there’s an element of cleverness in the way it plays out in the end. I would argue that it doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny, but the ending will tug at your heartstrings regardless. The second half of the book gets better, as the book’s focus shifts from one-dimensional characters going fancy things to actual plot progression.
The writing in the book is not bad, the pacing is good and the story does work in the end. It’s just kind of a cheap and overused plot twist, so it’s hard for me to be enthusiastic about it.
As a sidenote that only a small number of people will care about, Serle offers very detailed and yet very inaccurate descriptions of the life of a biglaw corporate lawyer, which drove me up the wall. You can’t do an IPO in a month! Corporate lawyers don’t refer to their matters as “cases”! And law firms don’t run legal departments for corporations. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. The most realistic part is when Dannie says that the probability of her running into a random person in a city of nine million is “less than zero.” (Hint: it’s not.) And I thought, yup, she’s a lawyer, alright. Terrible at math.
In Five Years Audiobook Review
Megan Hilty does a great job narrating this book. If you’re interested in reading this, definitely consider the audiobook.
Read it or Skip it?
Meh. If you’re looking for a quick chick lit read, this book doesn’t quite fit that description, though it sort of does. There’s not a lot of romance and I wouldn’t describe it as fun, funny or even lighthearted. It is, however, a tear-jerker if that’s what you’re looking for. And there is certainly no shortage of descriptions of upscale restaurants, posh apartments and well-known New York City locations, if you’re into that sort of thing. Native New Yorkers may find it a bit eye-roll inducing, but if you’ve visited Manhattan as a tourist, you may enjoy coming across something you recognize.
I think if you read this book uncritically, you will probably be fine with it, since the writing is fine and the pacing is good. It’s also a nice quick read with some cleverness to the plot. I found the ending to be sort of cheap, and I was disappointed by how little introspection or self-reflection is in the book. It’s mostly beautiful characters off to do the most obvious fancy things like weekends in the Hamptons and then kind of a soapy plot twist.
See In Five Years on Amazon.
Spoilers, Ending and Explanation
Spoilers and Explanation start here! Don’t read beyond this point if you haven’t read the book! Keep reading if you’ve read the book, but have questions!
Where can I find a full plot summary of In Five Years?
Help! I’m confused. What’s happens at the end of In Five Years?
After the hookup, it’s implied that she and Aaron will stay in touch but most likely just as friends. Instead, she sees Dr. Shaw (Bella’s surgeon) at the nearby deli, he walks her home and the book indicates that he will ask her out and she will (perhaps) say yes.
Have more questions? Ask in the comments and if it’s a common question, I’ll post it here.
Detailed Book Summary (Spoilers)
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