From the author of the acclaimed The Opposite of Me, a poignant, witty novel about marriage, forgiveness, and the choices that give shape—and limits—to our lives.
What would you do if your husband suddenly wanted to rewrite all of the rules of your relationship? This is the question at the heart of Skipping a Beat, Pekkanen’s thought-provoking second book.
From the outside, Julia and Michael seem to have it all. Both products of difficult childhoods in rural West Virginia—where they were simply Julie and Mike—they become high school sweethearts and fall in love. Shortly after graduation, they flee their small town to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar, Washington D.C. home. Julia is a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has just sold his wildly successful flavored water company for $70 million.
But one day, Michael collapses in his office. Four minutes and eight seconds after his cardiac arrest, a portable defibrillator jump-starts his heart. But in those lost minutes he becomes a different man. Money is meaningless to him—and he wants to give it all away. Julia, who sees bits of her life reflected in scenes from the world’s great operas, is now facing with a choice she never anticipated. Should she should walk away from the man she once adored—but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before this pronouncement—or give in to her husband's pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?
As wry and engaging as her debut, but with quiet depth and newfound maturity, Skipping a Beat is an unforgettable portrait of a marriage whose glamorous surface belies the complications and betrayals beneath.
Dead in the first sentence of Pekkanen's strained second novel (after The Opposite of Me), Michael Dunhill, a D.C. hotshot and the millionaire husband of narrator Julia, comes to after a few flat-lined minutes, ready for a change. What follows is a disjointed exploration of his wife's coming to terms with this development and a bulky series of flashbacks. Michael's near-death resolution involves restoring his marriage and donating his wealth to charity, much to the displeasure of Julia, who has become overinvested in their wealthy lifestyle. Michael spends most of the book radiating the grating beneficence of a religious charismatic while Julia moves from understandable annoyance to love and regret all without much convincing connection. Pekkanen does sometimes break through the surface to offer occasional insight into married life or the effects of wealth and power, but much page space is consumed with familiar frivolities like designer clothes, chocolate binges, and fruity drinks shared with saucy friends. It doesn't achieve the substance it strives for, but readers seeking yet another quippy diversion won't be disappointed.
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Skipping a Beat
This is one of the best books I've ever read. I loved how the author gives glimpses into the characters' backstories, and how it shows how they've gotten to where they are. The storyline flows, never seems cliche, and leaves you wishing for more. I found myself laughing and crying, finding myself invested in these characters. This book would make a fabulous movie!
Good....actually it was great!
The book was great. Very moving and would definitely read again. I wasn’t expecting the ending at all and ended up in tears. Thanks for writing this Sarah!
Sad that the book had to end. Loved every minute of it! Great read