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Skipping a Beat: A Novel Paperback – February 22, 2011
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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High-school sweethearts Julia and Michael have left their humble West Virginia roots far behind for a glamorous life in Washington, D.C. As they achieve more in their careers—she as a high-end events planner, he as the CEO of his own sports-drink company—they lose themselves as a couple. After Michael has a near-death experience, he decides to give away all their wealth and focus on his relationship with Julia. But she’s not ready to forgive him for choosing his work over her when she needed him most. Pekkanen’s novel traces the couple’s attempts to make amends for allowing success to replace love. In her previous novel, The Opposite of Me (2010), Pekkanen delved into the complex relationship between sisters, and she now uses the same insightful tone in this examination of a marriage. The moving story and bittersweet ending will draw in readers. --Aleksandra Walker
“The impossible choice between true love and the trappings of success is explored in Skipping a Beat. Sarah Pekkanen proves masterful at creating nuanced, complex characters deadlocked with emotional conflict, and the story culminates in an ending that will leave readers breathless. Evocative and compelling, it couldn’t be more satisfying.” —Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter is the New Black
"A provocative, poignant look at marriage, money and the things that matter most." —Beth Kendrick, author of The Pre-Nup
"Original, engaging, and soulful, Skipping a Beat explores the complexity of marriage and what it really means to share a life. I fell in love with Julia, a funny, flawed and utterly real heroine—and felt the weight of her dilemma with every page, all the way through to the surprising, satisfying finish." —Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed and Heart of the Matter
"Tender and funny in turn, Sarah Pekkanen has made modern marriage exciting in this imaginative and heartfelt tale of love and healing." —Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, #1 New York Times bestselling authors of The Nanny Diaries
"In her second novel, Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me) offers a wonderfully compelling, compassionate, and complicated portrait of the marriage of Julie and Michael Dunhill. Meeting in high school, the two were both determined to leave their hometown behind and make something of their lives, contrary to how they were raised. With Michael’s colossal and unpredicted financial success, these once loving sweethearts drift apart and find different foci for their passionate energies—Michael is completely absorbed in his DrinkUp company and Julie in her party-planning business. When Michael collapses on his office floor and dies for four minutes and eight seconds, their whole world changes, and both are left to reevaluate what they thought was important in life. For Julie though, this is a struggle to overcome the disappointment, sense of abandonment, and misunderstandings she’s harbored against her husband for years. VERDICT: In this compelling and satisfying read, Pekkanen offers relatable characters that move you and an ending that surprises and pleases. Highly recommended." —Library Journal, starred review
“A two-hanky weepy… A tragic turn of events redirects what could have been a predictable romance into a drama on the fragility of love and marriage.” —Kirkus
“An insightful examination of a marriage. The moving story and bittersweet ending will draw in readers” —Booklist
"This portrait of a couple forced to take responsibility for the breakdown of their relationship is at once heartbreaking and familiar." —People
“Intelligent and entertaining.” —The Washington Post
Top customer reviews
I will first admit that I LOVE chick lit. Love it! However, after a while the books written in that genre do tend to follow a formula. Nice, yet quirky girl discovers: a) her husband is a cheater and plans to leave her for a younger bimbo, b) she loses her job through no fault of her own, or c) she realizes that she is nearing some big milestone (30th birthday or similar) and discovers that she forgot to grow up. Then various mishaps unfold until the girl finds a happy ending.
You need to know that this book is not like that at all. Instead of a cartoonish main female character, a kooky best friend, and a one dimensional love interest you get real characters that you care about. I love the nuances of these characters, flaws and all. The author has created a story of marriage, drifting apart, staying together out of convenience and regret that is spun so beautifully that by the end of the book you will be bleeding for these characters.
If I had one little piece of criticism it would be that the end wrapped up everything up in a tight red bow. Though I suppose if it hadn't I would have been bitterly disappointed. I had a very satisfying and ugly cry that only a truly excellent book can give you.
Sarah has a knack for how to tell a beautifully woven story, with rich characters, and poignant plot elements. Her characters grab you initially, and I found Julia instantly likeable and I loved watching her grow throughout the novel.
I love the intense look at a marriage and what it takes to make it work after years. I found the flashbacks of how Michael and Julia first fell in love and the first years of their relationship, coupled with their current state of their marriage to be refreshing. I found myself campaigning for Michael to hopefully be able to win Julia's heart back as more and more complexities of their life together came into the forefront.
I've recommended this book and Sarah's previous one, "The Opposite of Me" to everyone I know. Sarah knows how to grab a reader's attention and keep them there. :)
Can't wait to read more of Sarah's novels!!!
This was an intense book, one that I devoured over a four-hour train ride, and I found myself alternately laughing, sighing, and choking back tears. This novel was really well done and even the parts where you could say Pekkanen telegraphed, you just don't mind. What a truly fantastic look into what builds, sustains, breaks, or remakes a relationship.
Because of her childhood Julia insisted on a pre-nup. She wanted to be assured she had security. She wanted their finances kept separate. Little did she know this would be important later on for both her and them together?
As the years passed by they became so busy and forgot the importance of each other which is something so many couples go through. Michael was driven by success. He could not stop. Julia began to feel lost. Things looked rosy on the outside but what went on behind closed doors?
Then a "life changing" event took place. Their lives changed forever in so many ways. He no longer wanted to be business driven but to find the love and romance they had found over 30 years ago. Could they find the people they once were? Could they regain the love, trust and fun that were the foundation of their relationship all those years ago? They had been best friends. Could they still be with all the life changes Michael was making on their behalf?
As women we need to value our girlfriends. They can be our rock. We just do not know it until they are needed. Isabella was that friend for Julia in ways neither of them imagined just as Julia had encouraged Isabella.
And then life threw another twist of fate. But Michael still had a surprise for Julia. Something Julia never knew about. And there was the ultimate gift..... As always, Isabella was by her side. Again!
You need to read this book and re-evaluate your life as a person and as someone in a relationship. I laughed and I cried. It made me think of my husband and what we had, have now and still have to come.
I have read four of Sarah Pekkanen's books but this one grabbed my heart and soul. It will do the same for you.