All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Five Years From Now by Paige Toon

on May 4, 2018

Five Years From Now
Paige Toon
Penguin Random House
2018, 337p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

‘One day, maybe five years from now, you’ll look back and understand why this happened.’

Vian and Nell are thrown together at the age of five when Vian’s mother and Nell’s father fall in love. At first wary of each other, they soon become the best of friends. But five years later, they are torn apart and Vian moves to the other side of the world.

Fast-forward five more years to when Vian comes to visit, and Nell discovers that the boy she once knew is now ‘Van’ – a wild and carefree teenager. Chemistry crackles, but once again, they’re separated.

For the next two decades, Nell and Van meet every five years, but life and circumstance always intervene. Will they ever find true happiness? And will it be together?

This is my first Paige Toon book and I’m not sure how it is I’ve gone this long without ever having read her before. Now that I have discovered her, I’m going to have to explore her backlist and there are so many books! Which is both good and bad – good because yay, more books! Bad because how on earth am I going to find the time to acquire and read so many of these books?

But I will have to try because I absolutely loved this book. I read it in a single sitting and in such a short time – I could not put it down once I had gotten started. Normally I would be wary about a book that seemed to be about two people who belong together constantly finding obstacles in the way of them actually being together. But Paige Toon constructs this in an utterly believable way and negotiates the obstacles skilfully without the story ever feeling repetitive or contrived.

Nell and Vian meet when they are both just five years old. Their parents, Nell’s father and Vian’s mother are moving in together, having fallen in love. Due to the smallness of Nell’s father’s cottage, they will be sharing a room and their early hostility and wariness of each other fades away and becomes a tight bond. They are separated five years later after a tragedy and from then on, it seems they are destined to only come together briefly every few years as they negotiate their lives on opposite sides of the world.

Something Nell’s father says to her – “five years from now, you’ll understand why this happened” underpins the entire story with events occurring that the characters don’t have the capacity to understand in the current timeline, but with hindsight, will be able to grasp the deeper meaning of. It’s something I’ve thought about myself in my own life – something going wrong, or not to plan. But then later looking back and seeing that the moment or incident led to something else or set me on a path that changed my life. For Nell and Vian, there are key moments in their interactions with each other that shape their lives and although these moments cause pain, they are also the harbingers of joy and change.

I loved the setting and the relationships in this. The relationship Nell has with her dad is truly remarkable and it evolves in the most organic of ways. She’s an adoring child, a rebellious teen struggling to find her way, pushing against her dad’s understandable tendency to be quite strict. Then she enters her adult years and their connection strengthens again and her devotion to him is just wonderful to read. Likewise Nell has a tight group of friends that she meets at school and they stay close all the way into adulthood, despite attending different universities and moving away for jobs and family. And always, always there is the bond between Nell and Vian/Van which also evolves over the years.

This is a book that won’t be for everyone – it’s hard to classify and although it has strong romantic elements, it’s not a romance as such. It’s two people who love each other absolutely but it’s a very complicated love. There’s a lot of factors that come into play in order to orchestrate things this way, probably beginning with the way things play out when Nell and Van are 15. It gives both of them a false impression as to how they would be viewed and they are reluctant to really push in that situation, for what they want. But it’s something that with a few conversations, could’ve been cleared up. By the time these conversations are had, their lives have taken directions that it’s no longer ‘easy’. There are strong reasons, for both of them that I found 100% believable and it’s not difficult to understand why they make the decisions they do. It’s a compelling story from beginning to end and I was just so invested in the two of them. It kept me guessing.

This is a strong, beautiful and bittersweet book. Such an amazing introduction to Toon’s writing and I can’t wait to try a few more of her books.


Book #81 of 2018


One response to “Review: Five Years From Now by Paige Toon

  1. Currently reading this and loving it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: