Friday, September 16, 2011

Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
352 pages
Published February 2011 by Washington Square Press
Source: the author!

Michael and Julia seemed to have it all, the big house, the fancy cars, the bottomless bank account. From the time she and Michael first met in high school, they had been inseparable; Julia had assumed things would always be that way, even after the product Michael developed and the company he built took off. She was wrong.

"Now, when I mentally trace the trajectory of our relationship--and I've had plenty of time to do it, lots of silent evenings alone in our home--I realize there wasn't a sharp breaking point or single furious argument that set us on our current path."

Unhappy has she has become, Julia has learned to accept that this is the way life will be. Until the day Michael has a heart attack at work.

"Four minutes and eight seconds. That's how long my husband, Michael Dunhill was dead.

 Four minutes and eight seconds. That how long it took for my husband to become a complete stranger to me."

When Michael is brought back to life, he is no longer the man driven to make more and more money, the man who used his money to belittle his own father and brothers, the man who was willing to overlook his own morals to save his company. Suddenly he wants to give it all away--the house, the cars, all of the money. There's nothing Julia can do about it, thanks to a prenuptial agreement that she convinced Michael to sign (because of her father's gambling problem). Michael wants to make things right and to rekindle the love that he and Julia have lost over the years.
"It was as if the old Michael had been replaced by a totally different man, one who wouldn't listen to reason. Everything that had driven him forward in life, all the goals he'd nurtured for decades, had somehow been erased the moment his heart stopped beating."
Now Sarah has to confront some terrible truths about herself. She has grown to enjoy the advantages that all of that money has given her and Michael isn't entirely to blame for what their marriage had become. When Michael asks Sarah to give him three weeks before she decides whether or not she'll leave him, she only agrees because she thinks she might yet be able to talk him out of giving everything away.

When I got an email from Sarah Pekkanen a couple of months ago, asking if I'd be interested in reviewing one of her books, I think she could probably hear the squee in my voice in my email response. I'd been looking forward to reading Skipping A Beat since I read Jen's review of it in February (Devourer of Books). Jen said "Books don’t often make me cry, other than the end of the 5th and 6th Harry Potter books. Skipping a Beat, though, made me sob. For 25 pages straight."

I must say I didn't sob. I didn't even cry. But I did become quite attached to Julia. I completely related to the way she felt, coming from the background she did, among the wealthy crowd in Washington D.C. As Pekkanen described Julia's discomfort, I imagined that it was exactly the way I would feel in the same situation. To be honest, I understood how upset Julia was with the idea of giving up all of the luxuries she had grown used to. She may have been able to recognize that she didn't really need such a large house that didn't even reflect her own tastes, but she certainly didn't want to give up those heated bathroom floors and the ability to shop where she wanted and when. So, although I didn't cry, Pekkanen made the breath catch in my throat and a feeling of sadness overcame me in the part of the book where I imagine Jen began sobbing.

There were parts of the book that felt somewhat forced for me and some of the plot devices felt too familiar. But there's no denying that Pekkanen knows how to craft characters that feel real, how to develop relationships, and how to tug at your heartstrings. I finally understand why so many readers love Pekkanen's books so much and I'm certain that I'll be reading more of her work.

Thanks, Sarah, for sharing your story with me!


  1. Great review - I wasn't too interested in reading her first book, but this one sounds much more like one I would want to read, so I'm going right now to stick it on the top of the TBR shelf (which would be the TBRS shelf - to be read soon!)

  2. I've got this one on my tbr list. After your review, it's going to the top of my list. Great review!

  3. I really liked this review. It sounds like an interesting read. I hope I get to read it someday.

  4. So glad you enjoyed! Thank you for this lovely review - xoxo, Sarah

  5. I want to read this book too! It sounds absolutely wonderful. Thank you for sharing your passion for it.

  6. I read another review of this one.a while back and it made me want to read it then. Now your review makes me want to get to this one soon! Sounds like a story that would make us really stop and think about things!

  7. I was another one who sobbed, for 25 pages straight, while reading it at the beach surrounded by friends. I, however, did not understand Julia's point of view, and I think this may be why we had different reactions. I did not understand why wealth was more important to her than happiness; I still don't. I recognized the fact that Sarah was deliberately making Julia out to be the bad guy in the relationship, and that the readers are not supposed to like her. Once I got past that, I fell right into the novel and didn't stop until I needed tissues to wipe my nose.

    I am glad you enjoyed it though. And you are right. I cannot wait for Sarah's next book!