Jennifer's Reviews > Skipping a Beat

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
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Mar 15, 12

Read in January, 2012

Brief Description: Julia and Michael grew up together in the same West Virginia town. Both faced childhoods that were difficult, but they saved each other and managed to escape their hardscrabble town and create a new life together in Washington, DC. Now in their thirties, they’ve achieved a level of success that Julia (whose constant worries about money growing up have followed her into adulthood) never imagined possible. Michael is the owner of a wildly successful company, while Julia owns her own party planning business. They live in a mansion, drive luxury cars and want for nothing. But Julia often finds herself alone as Michael is consumed by his work. His dedication to growing his company has devoured him, and their marriage has become a hollow shell. Then Michael has a heart attack and is declared clinically dead for several minutes. When he recovers, he is a changed man. Not only is he dead-set on giving away his massive fortune, he is also ready to focus on and love Julia again. But Julia is not quite ready to embrace these changes. She’s become a different person over the years and doesn’t feel what Michael feels. To her, he is destroying their lives and threatening her with her worst childhood fears. She thinks it unfair of Michael to ask so much of her when he gave her so little in the past. But Michael seems to be on a deadline of sorts, and she feels she owes him a bit of time to make his case.

My Thoughts: Despite the glamourous trappings of wealth and the visions of the afterlife that Michael shares, this is really a novel about a marriage that evolved into something that neither party can fully understand and where it will go next. There has been betrayal, hurt and neglect on both sides, and when Michael abrubtly wants to find his way back to Julia, she’s not quite sure she wants him back. As they both struggle to make sense of what their marriage has become, Pekkanen explores what holds a marriage together and whether people can truly give up the love that brought them together in the first place. I thought Pekkanen created an interesting story and brought it to a close in a very satisfying and emotional way. However, I often found myself thinking that Julia was too focused on money, and I often found her unlikable. I think if Pekkanen had spent more time developing Julia’s hardscrabble childhood a bit more, it wouldn’t have read this way. Still, despite some flaws, Pekkanen creates an involving and emotional read.
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