Friday, April 15, 2011

Review: Skipping a Beat

Skipping a Beat
By Sarah Pekkanen
Publication date: February 12, 2011

My review:

Julia and Michael's marriage has been on the rocks for a long time but Julia considers herself happy with the life she leads. She loves her job, her friends, and her expensive and elegant home. When her husband collapses during a meeting and dies for four moments, he is revived but he is a changed man. This new Michael decides to give up his high profile career and company and give away his wealth, sending Julia into a tailspin. Now she has to decide if she will stand by him in this new life or choose to walk away from the man who was once her best friend.

Michael and Julia came from a small West Virginia town where both had family problems. As teens, they promised each other that they would escape their roots and make something of their lives. Julia started her own successful catering company and Michael became a multimillionaire businessman. Somewhere along the way, they lost sight of what is important. Julia is driven but no more so than her husband. She carries a lot of anger towards Michael as well as baggage from her poor relationship with her dad. These elements are slowly revealed, partly through flashbacks. 

Michael also has his own childhood issues to deal with as the youngest son who felt abandoned by his mother (she left when he was little) and criticized by his athletic father and brothers. Michael's desire to prove to them that he can be successful was the motivating force of his life. The new Michael however is kinder, relaxed, and a little bit too emotional. At times I found him annoying, especially when he kept mentioning his four minute "death" but most of the time I liked his new and improved character.

Skipping a Beat looks at the ups and downs of married life. There are no easy answers and Julia's turmoil is honestly portrayed. Both characters have flaws which makes them more realistic. Though Julia is well to do, I found her character to be relatable, particularly when we see what her life was like back in West Virginia. I also enjoyed the writing style and the use of opera to describe Julia's feelings about her marriage. I thought that was a good illustrative device and wish it had been carried out with more consistency throughout the book. The parts with the mathematical references did not appeal to me as much, though it fit with Michael's character.

Something I did not care for was the overemphasis on the splendor of Julia's home. The constant mention of the heated bathroom tiles does point to Julia's dependence on creature comforts but I thought more time was devoted to those descriptions than even showing Julia's love of her career. We hardly hear about her work at all though we are told she loves her job. I thought the novel started out well and for most of the book I loved it and then towards the end it became too melodramatic. I found the conclusion to be a little predictable as well. Overall, I really liked Skipping a Beat and its exploration of interpersonal relationships. Sarah Pekkanen is a talented author and I look forward to seeing what she writes next. I would suggest this book to fans of Nicholas Sparks.

Readalikes: Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook, Nicholas Sparks, Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff, Nancy Thayer, Patti Callahan Henry, Jennifer Weiner


  1. Hmm not exactly my kind of book, but I like the premise of a rocky married couple reexamining their relationship. I think near death experience often have that affect on people. I am wondering how it Julie and Michael end up staying together a stronger couple or go their separate ways. Good review

  2. Great review!! I would have been tired of reading about heated tiles too!!


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