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In Five Years Summary & Study Guide

Rebecca Serle
This Study Guide consists of approximately 42 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of In Five Years.
This section contains 992 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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In Five Years Summary & Study Guide Description

In Five Years Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on In Five Years by Rebecca Serle.

The following version of this book was used to produce this guide. Serle, Rebecca. In Five Years. Atria, 2020.

Dannie Kohan, the first person narrator, wakes up in her New York apartment where she lives with boyfriend, David, on December 15th 2020. She gets ready for her job interview at Wachtell, the corporate law firm she has dreamed of working out. At the interview, they ask her where she sees herself in five years, and she confidently tells them her meticulous plan: She will be senior associate for Watchell, up for partner; she will be married to David, they will live in Gramercy park.

The job interview goes well, and she goes for dinner with David after, who proposes. Dannie says yes, feeling right on track.

At their apartment, Dannie falls asleep on the couch. She realizes she has awakened into December 15th, 2025 where she lives in Dumbo and is engaged to a man named Aaron Gregory. Although she does not know him, Dannie feels an unexplainable love for Aaron and they make love passionately.

She awakens back in 2020. Dannie tells no one except a therapist about her premonition. Four and a half years pass; she gets hired at Watchell and moves to Gramercy Park with David. They never marry as Dannie’s dream prevents her from picking a date.

In June 2025, Bella, Dannie’s whimsical lifelong best friend, has a new boyfriend, her first serious relationship. She introduces her boyfriend Greg, which Dannie identifies as Aaron Gregory from her premonition.

Dannie is horrified and goes to Brooklyn to try and find the loft from her premonition. She bumps into Aaron who is viewing an apartment for Bella. He invites Dannie, saying he wants her to like him. They go see the apartment, and it is the same loft.

Dannie tells David they must marry immediately, believing she must act to ensure her premonition does not come true.

In August 2025, Dannie, David, Bella, and Aaron go to beach house for the long weekend. Dannie sees how in love Bella and Aaron are. Bella takes a pregnancy test and it is positive, she is elated.

The day of Bella’s doctor appointment, Dannie gets a call from Aaron. Bella was never pregnant; she has ovarian cancer which can mimic pregnancy. The doctor says Bella needs surgery as her cancer is stage 3, which will result in her never being able to have children. Bella is devastated.

Dannie and Aaron go for a walk, where Aaron promises Dannie he will not leave, he will stay and care for Bella.

Bella’s surgery goes well. Aaron and Dannie take care of Bella, Dannie happy that Bella has finally found the love she has always wanted in Aaron.

Aldridge, Dannie’s boss, offers her a big case under him in Los Angeles for 3 weeks. She feels she cannot leave Bella, but David tells her to go.

Bella begins chemotherapy treatment. After an appointment, which Dannie always accompanies, Bella gives Dannie her birthday present. It is an art print which Dannie recognizes from the loft in the premonition.

Bella gets sicker from chemo. After a session, Bella tells Dannie her mom is taking her to dinner and a show. Dannie is angry, saying she is too weak to go. They fight — Bella says Dannie is too controlling and tells her to stop coming to her appointments.

Dannie calls Aaron crying. He meets her and says Bella will forgive her. He tells her not to be preoccupied with Bella’s parents leaving her, because love does not require a future to have value.

Dannie goes to Los Angeles with Aldridge and has dinner with the clients. She feels guilty about leaving Bella. She gets drunk at the hotel bar with Aldridge.

In New York, Dannie buys a wedding dress, December 15th being only one month away.

Bella gets test results back that show the chemo did not get rid of the cancer. She asks Dannie to see her, no longer wanting to fight. She tells Dannie that her and Aaron got engaged. Bella says she wants Dannie to experience the deep love that she feels, believing that Dannie does not feel it with David.

Aldridge tells Dannie the clients want her to head their new legal team. She calls David to tell him, but he hangs up due to work. She feels lonely and realizes her and David’s lives do not intersect, only run parallel.

Dannie and David go for dinner, and she suggests that they maybe push the wedding back to summer, as Bella is sick. David is upset, and she drops it, saying they will stick with December.

Another day, David tells Dannie he realized she will never want to marry him. They break up. She moves into Bella’s apartment early December.

After a week, Dannie’s stuff is missing. She calls Aaron, who tells her to meet him at the Brooklyn loft. There, the loft is renovated just like in the premonition, Aaron explaining Bella bought it and renovated it for Dannie. Aaron and Dannie kiss.

Bella stops treatment, knowing she will die. Dannie goes to Bella’s mother’s hotel, and brings her to Bella so they can have time together. Bella’s mother leaves and Bella says she is sorry for dying and leaving before Dannie experienced real love or heartbreak. Dannie says she already has, with Bella.

Bella dies. Aaron and Dannie host a celebration of life for her on December 15th. Afterwards, Aaron goes back to the loft with Dannie. She lies on the bed, knowing what will happen. She wakes and lives her premonition, now realizing the powerful emotion she felt the first time was not love, but grief. Aaron leaves, they make plans for lunch as friends.

Dannie walks to a nearby deli and bumps into Bella’s oncologist. They have coffee for an hour and he asks to see her again when she is ready.

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