Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book Review: Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

Skipping a Beat: A NovelSkipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publish Date: February 22, 2011
Trade Paperback, 352 pages 

ISBN: 978-1451609820

My Review:
Why I read this: The premise sounded very interesting and I have heard about this author before so I jumped at the chance to read and review this so I could try out a new author.

My thoughts: Wow, what a book.  Ms. Pekkanen really has an inside look on marriage and womanhood.  When Michael has a death experience one day during a meeting, he changes completely.  Without consulting his wife, Julia, he decides he will give away all he owns in order to make amends for things he has done.  He also wants to concentrate fully on his wife Julia who he has neglected since starting his own business on the way to becoming a multi-millionaire.  But it's not that simple.  Julia has gotten use to their life and she resents him for pulling the money out from under her and she's holding other resentments as well.

Honestly there were times I thought I would put the book down.  Julia would seem a little childish but then Ms. Pekkanen would delve into the whys of her actions and thoughts and then I understood Julia so much more.  I think every woman will find some of herself in Julia, whether it has to do with marriage or relationship with family members or just trying to get ahead.  Julia turns out to be a remarkable character who grows through the book and learns to let go.  I enjoyed watching her journey and really felt for her at times.  Anyone who is married knows there are always rocky times and you both have to work to make it last.  Ms. Pekkanen does a wonderful job of showing this yet showing that sometimes it's better not to give up.

Michael was fascinating and it's not until later in the book that you really get into his motivations as well and you begin to understand the whys of what he is doing.  I think the author did a magnificent job of layering the plot so we pulled away layer by layer to see how the characters would develop next.  At times I wanted to bop both of them on the head, but there was a purpose to those times and it made the other times in the novel all the more special.

I also enjoyed Julia's friend, Isabelle, she brought a nice sideline into the story and also some humor.  I think all women want a friend like Isabelle, one who will laugh with you, cry with you and set you straight when you need to be.  I enjoyed watching their friendship.

The book moves quickly.  It is like you open the book to the first page and the next thing  you know you have read 100 pages and if those first 100 pages went fast then the last half of the book moves even faster.  It kept me up past my bedtime because I just had to finish it to see what would happen.

And that is all I am going to give you - just know it is a special book.  If you enjoy stories by Emily Giffin and Elizabeth Berg then give Sarah Pekkanen a try.  I know I am going to go back and read Opposite of Me now that I have read Skipping a Beat.  These are the types of stories I really enjoy.  Give me women characters who are struggling and not perfect, ones I can relate to and you have me hooked.  Ms. Pekkanen has gained a new fan in me after reading Skipping a Beat.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:

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?

About the Author: 

Sarah Pekkanen is the author of The Opposite of Me and Skipping a Beat. Her work has been published in People, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New Republic, The Baltimore Sun, Reader’s Digest, and Washingtonian, among others.  She writes a monthly Erma Bombeck type column for Bethesda Magazine, and has been an on-air contributor to NPR and E! Entertainment’s “Gossip Show.”  She is the winner of a Dateline award and the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship. Sarah lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and three young sons.

FTC Information: I received this book from Crystal at BookSparks PR.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.