Rebecca Serle’s “In Five Years” Forces The Question: Where Will You Be?

Originally published February 20, 2019

Well? Start thinking …

The concept isn’t novel — we’ve been practicing future think since we were in kindergarten. Because school is designed to prepare us for our futures, the question, “Where will you be in five years?” is practically a key ingredient to the foundation of our collective childhoods.

In fact, one of my oldest and earliest memories remains an afternoon assembly when I was in 6th grade, when the principal alluded to the 8th graders impending graduation that evening. I remember specifically thinking, “In two years, that’ll be me.”

For most people, pondering our future is just part of our DNA. Then there’s the actual planners. Like Dannie.

Rebecca Serle’s latest, “In Five Years,” takes aim at the concept of carefully planning out futures, and what happens when destiny has something else up her sleeve.

But mostly? It’s a love story. Just not the kind you think.

Dannie Kohan has every milestone step of her life scheduled, right down to the law firm she’ll partner at and the night she gets engaged. When a premonition-like dream shakes her to the core, the next five years are an exercise in avoiding what she thinks is the night that throws her off track.

Readers soon discover though, that even the best laid plans don’t stand a chance when the universe has other ideas about health and happiness. And sometimes the most important love in your life isn’t with the guy you’ve spent the last seven years with — instead, it’s the friend you’ve had since elementary school who knows you better than you do.

Set to publish March 10, Chicago-area readers have chance to talk shop with Serle at two local appearances:

Saturday, March 14, 2 p.m.

494 Laurel Avenue
Highland Park, IL 60035
Details at:

Sunday, March 15, 2 p.m

123 West Jefferson Ave
Naperville, IL 60540

In an email exchange with the author, I asked her about “In Five Years” …

To get the obvious question out of the way, writers often write what they know — so in that sense, is there one character above all in “In Five Years” that you most identify with?

Dannie, probably. I used to have a pretty airtight vision for my life.

I am excited to see how others respond to the different threads of love stories with “In Five Years.” In writing it, was there a particular couple you started with, such as David and Dannie or Dannie and Bella, that led to uncovering the others?

I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that the love story between the two friends Dannie and Bella is really central to the plot. I knew the concept wouldn’t work without their relationship, so I began there.

I loved that readers start the novel under the impression someone has yet to really discover themselves (Bella) when in fact it’s really all about Dannie having that A-ha moment. What was your biggest A-ha moment while writing?

This book was a very interesting process because over the course of writing it I met someone who was very significant in my life, but they ended up having a very different role in my life than I thought they would. My aha moment was very much: “You can see what’s coming, but you cannot see what it will mean.” That’s a primary theme of the novel, as well.

I love when writers incorporate food as a character into their work. From the restaurants to the takeout, it feels as if the meal is often the backdrop for a lot of the action in the novel. What’s your favorite meal? Would you rather linger over coffee or Chinese takeout?

All the restaurants Dannie and Bella go to in the novel are/were personal favorites of mine, and places I visited often in my own New York youth. I’m a coffee lingerer, for sure!

Dannie’s a big planner about the things she wants, which should clue readers into whether or not she walks down the aisle. Are you a planner? A planning wanna be? 

I used to be a huge planner. I had a whole blueprint for my life. But things ended up turning out very differently than what I was planning. I’d like to think I’m learning to be a bit more go with the flow these days. And oddly enough when it comes to books – I’ve never outlined! Fiction really does have much to teach us about our own lives.

Who plays Dannie and Bella in your fantasy version of a movie adaptation?

There are so many great actresses working today. I really don’t know. I’ve learned over the course of my career that adaptations are another thing entirely. Right now I just have my Dannie and Bella in my head!

Favorite part of a book tour?

Getting to meet readers. And a bath after a long flight.

Your favorite book last year? 

Normal People by Sally Rooney.

And finally, what’s next? Another book in the works or are we lucky enough that we might actually get to see Dannie and Bella on the big or small screen? 

Another book, always! I’m also working on adapting my last novel, The Dinner List. And a new television show, as well.

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