Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
Julia and Michael meet in high school in their small, poverty-stricken West Virginia hometown. Both products of difficult childhoods — Julia’s father is a compulsive gambler and Michael’s mother abandoned his family when he was a young boy – they find a sense of safety and mutual understanding in each other. Shortly after graduation they flee West Virginia to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar,Washington D.C. home. From the outside it all looks perfect – Julia has become a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has launched a wildly successful flavored water company that he sold for $70 million.
But one day Michael stands up at the head of the table in his company’s boardroom — then silently crashes to the floor. More than four minutes later, a portable defibrillator manages to jump-start his heart. Yet what happened to Michael during those lost minutes forever changes him. Money is meaningless to him now – and he wants to give it all away to charity. A prenuptial agreement that Julia insisted upon back when Michael’s company was still struggling means she has no claim to his fortune, and now she must decide: should she walk away from the man she once adored, but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before his near-death experience – or should she give in to her husband’s pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?
Published: February 22, 2011
Like Amber, I also learned about Sarah Pekkanen through another one of my favorite authors, Jen Lancaster. Jen had listed Skipping A Beat as one of her summer must reads, and I went straight to Goodreads and added it to my “Want to Read” list. I remember being intrigued by the premise of the story, so I jumped at the chance to go meet her at a joint event with Jen Lancaster, Stacey Ballis, and Jennifer Weiner in Lake Zurich, IL. Little did we all know that it would be one of the hottest, most humid days we’d see that July. The event was held in a gym, and they had to bring out the biggest fans to cool the place down a little. As hot as it was, it didn’t stop the event. All four authors stuck around to the very end, and we all had a really great day despite all the sweating. (Check out the rest of the pics at my old blog here.)
It was that July day that I finally purchased a copy of Skipping A Beat and once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. This is one of those books that they create all the memes about… wanting to read just one more chapter until all of the sudden it’s 4 a.m. On a work night. And you have to be at work at 6 a.m. And you bawled, so not only does your face show the signs of a lack of sleep, but the puffiness from all the tears.
The story of Julia and Michael is one that a lot of couples have been through. Working hard, following dreams, chasing promotions, but ultimately losing each other. All of the sudden, life as they know it completely flip flops and a near-death experience causes Michael to really take a look at his life and re-examine what is the most important to him, namely his marriage. While he is busy changing everything to turn all the bad things he’s done around, the situation leaves Julia bewildered and in a place where she has to not only re-evaluate what is important to her, but to determine if she can forgive Michael and how move forward with or without him.
While there is some whimsy to the story, the relationship between Julia and Michael is easy to relate to. I would even be bold enough to say that if most of us haven’t been in a similar point in our relationships, we know someone who has. Someone who’s had to make a difficult decision to move forward with or without their partner. When you commit to another person in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor, etc., we hardly ever think about the potential to simply grow apart from the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with. And when I say “simply,” it’s because it can happen without you even realizing it. There comes a point when you have to decide… is this what I want? Can I live with this? Can we move forward together? That theme is very real in these pages.
SAB is my go-to book when recommending Sarah Pekkanen to friends and other readers. It’s a fantastic combination of light but deep and will leave you wanting more Pekkanen in your life!
You can get your copy here. Please leave your thank yous in the comments. 😉