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?
Wow, I just realized how long it’s been since I finished a book. The craziness of life has kept me MIA…until now. I’ve finally been able to finish Sarah Pekkanen’s latest novel, Skipping a Beat. Last year, both LibraryLove and I reviewed her first book, The Opposite of Me, and this year has brought us more from the ever witty and charming Pekkanen. I can say without a doubt that I enjoyed this book so much more than the first one! It really is amazing how much writers can change in just one year or between one novel. This one kept my attention (granted, it also had a couple of months of it since I was reading at the pace of molasses this time around.) But anyway, this was an interesting story for a couple of reasons.
A unique story line, Michael cheats death and is given a second chance at life. (By the way, nonfiction books of the same topic seem to be creeping up more and more, but I digress. I think I made clear my feelings on that with my review of Heaven is for Real) Something that struck me is that neither of the main characters seemed to have any belief or faith in an afterlife or any higher being, but alas, that’s not the point either. When Michael is given his second chance, he makes drastic changes to his lifestyle without discussing them with Julia (the marriage seems very business-like) and Julia doesn’t exactly seem in love with her husband, much less affectionate toward him. Readers will be pleased to see Julia warm toward her husband throughout the story as she simultaneously navigates new waters with him and reminisces over a love once lost between them.
I appreciate Pekkanen’s witty voice and her sense of humor and there are laugh out loud moments where you just can’t help but chuckle. It seems to come so natural for Sarah. A truly entertaining author, Sarah Pekkanen continues to create stories you can lose yourself in and absorb. I would have liked to have seen more with Isabelle and what happened with her situation and think that would be a fun story in itself! (Hint, hint…) It was nice that Julia and Isabelle kept a close friendship because both Julia and Michael’s worlds were so work-oriented. In the DC area that’s not hard to do, but it’s always refreshing when there is that someone close you can support and lean on during tough times.
All in all, I really enjoyed this 2nd work from Sarah and I look forward to reading more of her novels. And hopefully, also to picking up steam with this year’s challenge!
Other Sarah Pekkanen book reviews on Year of the Bookwormz:
Fabookulous’ Review of The Opposite of Me
LibraryLove’s Review of The Opposite of Me
LibraryLove’s Review of Skipping a Beat (spoiler alert at the end)