Skipping a Beat

( 89 )

Overview

From the author of the acclaimed The Opposite of Me, a poignant, witty novel about marriage, forgiveness, and the choices that give shape—and limits—to our lives.

What would you do if your husband suddenly wanted to rewrite all of the rules of your relationship? This is the question at the heart of Skipping a Beat, Pekkanen’s thought-provoking second book.

From the outside, Julia and Michael seem to have it all. Both products of difficult ...

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Skipping a Beat: A Novel

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Overview

From the author of the acclaimed The Opposite of Me, a poignant, witty novel about marriage, forgiveness, and the choices that give shape—and limits—to our lives.

What would you do if your husband suddenly wanted to rewrite all of the rules of your relationship? This is the question at the heart of Skipping a Beat, Pekkanen’s thought-provoking second book.

From the outside, Julia and Michael seem to have it all. Both products of difficult childhoods in rural West Virginia – where they were simply Julie and Mike – they become high school sweethearts and fall in love. Shortly after graduation, they flee their small town to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar, Washington D.C. home. Julia is a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has just sold his wildly successful flavored water company for $70 million.

But one day, Michael collapses in his office. Four minutes and eight seconds after his cardiac arrest, a portable defibrillator jump-starts his heart. But in those lost minutes he becomes a different man. Money is meaningless to him - and he wants to give it all away. Julia, who sees bits of her life reflected in scenes from the world’s great operas, is now facing with a choice she never anticipated. Should she should walk away from the man she once adored – but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before this pronouncement - or give in to her husband's pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?

As wry and engaging as her debut, but with quiet depth and newfound maturity, Skipping a Beat is an unforgettable portrait of a marriage whose glamorous surface belies the complications and betrayals beneath.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dead in the first sentence of Pekkanen's strained second novel (after The Opposite of Me), Michael Dunhill, a D.C. hotshot and the millionaire husband of narrator Julia, comes to after a few flat-lined minutes, ready for a change. What follows is a disjointed exploration of his wife's coming to terms with this development and a bulky series of flashbacks. Michael's near-death resolution involves restoring his marriage and donating his wealth to charity, much to the displeasure of Julia, who has become overinvested in their wealthy lifestyle. Michael spends most of the book radiating the grating beneficence of a religious charismatic while Julia moves from understandable annoyance to love and regret--all without much convincing connection. Pekkanen does sometimes break through the surface to offer occasional insight into married life or the effects of wealth and power, but much page space is consumed with familiar frivolities like designer clothes, chocolate binges, and fruity drinks shared with saucy friends. It doesn't achieve the substance it strives for, but readers seeking yet another quippy diversion won't be disappointed. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“The impossible choice between true love and the trappings of success is explored in Skipping a Beat. Sarah Pekkanen proves masterful at creating nuanced, complex characters deadlocked with emotional conflict, and the story culminates in an ending that will leave readers breathless. Evocative and compelling, it couldn’t be more satisfying.” Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter is the New Black

"A provocative, poignant look at marriage, money and the things that matter most." —Beth Kendrick, author of The Pre-Nup

"Original, engaging, and soulful, Skipping a Beat explores the complexity of marriage and what it really means to share a life. I fell in love with Julia, a funny, flawed and utterly real heroine—and felt the weight of her dilemma with every page, all the way through to the surprising, satisfying finish." —Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed and Heart of the Matter

"Tender and funny in turn, Sarah Pekkanen has made modern marriage exciting in this imaginative and heartfelt tale of love and healing." —Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, #1 New York Times bestselling authors of The Nanny Diaries

"In her second novel, Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me) offers a wonderfully compelling, compassionate, and complicated portrait of the marriage of Julie and Michael Dunhill. Meeting in high school, the two were both determined to leave their hometown behind and make something of their lives, contrary to how they were raised. With Michael’s colossal and unpredicted financial success, these once loving sweethearts drift apart and find different foci for their passionate energies—Michael is completely absorbed in his DrinkUp company and Julie in her party-planning business. When Michael collapses on his office floor and dies for four minutes and eight seconds, their whole world changes, and both are left to reevaluate what they thought was important in life. For Julie though, this is a struggle to overcome the disappointment, sense of abandonment, and misunderstandings she’s harbored against her husband for years. VERDICT: In this compelling and satisfying read, Pekkanen offers relatable characters that move you and an ending that surprises and pleases. Highly recommended." —Library Journal, starred review

“A two-hanky weepy… A tragic turn of events redirects what could have been a predictable romance into a drama on the fragility of love and marriage.” —Kirkus

“An insightful examination of a marriage. The moving story and bittersweet ending will draw in readers” —Booklist

"This portrait of a couple forced to take responsibility for the breakdown of their relationship is at once heartbreaking and familiar." —People

“Intelligent and entertaining.” —The Washington Post

Library Journal
In her second novel, Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me) offers a wonderfully compelling, compassionate, and complicated portrait of the marriage of Julie and Michael Dunhill. Meeting in high school, the two were both determined to leave their hometown behind and make something of their lives, contrary to how they were raised. With Michael's colossal and unpredicted financial success, these once loving sweethearts drift apart and find different foci for their passionate energies—Michael is completely absorbed in his DrinkUp company and Julie in her party-planning business. When Michael collapses on his office floor and dies for four minutes and eight seconds, their whole world changes, and both are left to reevaluate what they thought was important in life. For Julie though, this is a struggle to overcome the disappointment, sense of abandonment, and misunderstandings she's harbored against her husband for years. VERDICT In this compelling and satisfying read, Pekkanen offers relatable characters that move you and an ending that surprises and pleases. Highly recommended.—Anne M. Miskewitch, Chicago P.L.
Kirkus Reviews

A two-hanky weepy in which a 30-something woman must choose between her vast wealth and a husband she hasn't really loved in years.

After Michael's surprise heart attack (he's not even 40), he becomes a transformed person. His near-death experience showers him with epiphanies—love is all that matters, money is meaningless, the quest for power is corrupting—and decides to act on them. While still in the hospital he informs everyone that he is selling his company, his home, all his possessions (totaling in the hundreds of millions) and donating the proceeds to charity. This does not sit well with his wife Julia. Because of a pre-nup agreement she insisted on (her father, a compulsive gambler, shamed and ruined their family and scarred Julia's sense of security), she will have no recourse in Michael's decisions. Hardly a spoiled D.C. wife (in fact the two come from the same poor West Virginia town), she nonetheless would like to keep a roof over her head and the heated floors beneath her feet. Michael asks for three weeks before she files for divorce—three weeks to woo her back and convince her all they need is each other. Much of the novel is devoted to flashbacks of their courtship; as high-school sweethearts they planned on escaping the poverty of their town (and their dire family circumstances) to somehow make it big. But as Michael's company grew, and her own business took off, they became little more than cohabitors in an ultra-luxe D.C. residence. Julia isn't quite sure what to make of all the sudden attention Michael is lavishing on her—a trip to Paris, picnics—but she is sure that years of neglect, possible adultery and this current betrayal may simply be impossible to forgive.

A tragic turn of events redirects what could have been a predictable romance into a drama on the fragility of love and marriage.

Nancy Robertson
…[Julia] is a well-drawn and emotionally complex character whose foibles and fears will resonate with readers beyond her upscale Zip code…In this intelligent and entertaining novel, Pekkanen shows how quickly—in the skip of a heartbeat—everything can change. The questions her heroine faces about love, money and fate may be timeworn, but Pekkanen inserts enough humor and psychological insight to elevate the plot beyond the expected. She also offers a delightful slice of life inside the Beltway.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451609820
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 182,969
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally bestselling author of The Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, These Girls, and The Best of Us as well as a series of linked short stories for ereaders. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. She lives with her family, including a rescue dog and cat, in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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Read an Excerpt

Skipping a Beat


  • WHEN MY HUSBAND, MICHAEL, died for the first time, I was walking across a freshly waxed marble floor in three-inch Stuart Weitzman heels, balancing a tray of cupcakes in my shaking hands.

Shaking because I’d overdosed on sugar—someone had to heroically step up and taste-test the cupcakes, after all—and not because I was worried about slipping and dropping the tray, even though these weren’t your run-of-the-mill Betty Crockers. These were molten chocolate and cayenne-pepper masterpieces, and each one was topped with a name scripted in edible gold leaf.

Decadent cupcakes as place cards for the round tables encircling the ballroom—it was the kind of touch that kept me in brisk business as a party planner. Tonight, we’d raise half a million for the Washington, D.C., Opera Company. Maybe more, if the waiters kept topping off those wine and champagne glasses like I’d instructed them.

“Julia!”

I carefully set down the tray, then spun around to see the fretful face of the assistant florist who’d called my name.

“The caterer wants to lower our centerpieces,” he wailed, agony practically oozing from his pores. I didn’t blame him. His boss, the head florist—a gruff little woman with more than a hint of a mustache—secretly scared me, too.

“No one touches the flowers,” I said, trying to sound as tough as Clint Eastwood would, should he ever become ensconced in a brawl over the proper length of calla lilies.

My cell phone rang and I reached for it, absently glancing at the caller ID. It was my husband, Michael. He’d texted me earlier to announce he was going on a business trip and would miss the birthday dinner my best friend was throwing for me later in the month. If Michael had a long-term mistress, it might be easier to compete, but his company gyrated and beckoned in his mind more enticingly than any strategically oiled Victoria’s Secret model. I’d long ago resigned myself to the fact that work had replaced me as Michael’s true love. I ignored the call and dropped the phone back into my pocket.

Later, of course, I’d realize it wasn’t Michael phoning but his personal assistant, Kate. By then, my husband had stood up from the head of the table in his company’s boardroom, opened his mouth to speak, and crashed to the carpeted floor. All in the same amount of time it took me to walk across a ballroom floor just a few miles away.

The assistant florist raced off and was instantly replaced by a white-haired, grandfatherly looking security guard from the Little Jewelry Box.

“Miss?” he said politely.

I silently thanked my oxygen facials and caramel highlights for his decision not to call me ma’am. I was about to turn thirty-five, which meant I wouldn’t be able to hide from the liver-spotted hands of ma’am-dom forever, but I’d valiantly dodge their bony grasp for as long as possible.

“Where would you like these?” the guard asked, indicating the dozen or so rectangular boxes he was carrying on a tray draped in black velvet. The boxes were wrapped in a shade of silver that exactly matched the gun nestled against his ample hip.

“On the display table just inside the front door, please,” I instructed him. “People need to see them as soon as they walk in.” People would bid tens of thousands of dollars to win a surprise bauble, if only to show everyone else that they could. The guard was probably a retired policeman, trying to earn money to supplement his pension, and I knew he’d been ordered to keep those boxes in his sight all night long.

“Can I get you anything? Maybe some coffee?” I offered.

“Better not,” he said with a wry smile. The poor guy probably wasn’t drinking anything because the jewelry store wouldn’t even let him take a bathroom break. I made a mental note to pack up a few dinners for him to bring home.

My BlackBerry vibrated just as I began placing the cupcakes around the head table and mentally debating the sticky problem of the video game guru who looked and acted like a thirteen-year-old overdue for his next dose of Ritalin. I’d sandwich him between a female U.S. senator and a co-owner of the Washington Blazes professional basketball team, I decided. They were both tall; they could talk over the techie’s head.

At that moment, a dozen executives were leaping up from their leather chairs to cluster around Michael’s limp body. They were all shouting at each other to call 911—this crowd was used to giving orders, not taking them—and demanding that someone perform CPR.

As I stood in the middle of the ballroom, smoothing out a crease on a white linen napkin and inhaling the sweet scent of lilies, the worst news I could possibly imagine was being delivered by a baby-faced representative from the D.C. Opera Company.

“Melanie has a sore throat,” he announced somberly.

I sank into a chair with a sigh and wiggled my tired feet out of my shoes. Perfect. Melanie was the star soprano who was scheduled to sing a selection from Orfeo ed Euridice tonight. If those overflowing wineglasses didn’t get checkbooks whipped out of pockets, Melanie’s soaring, lyrical voice definitely would. I desperately needed Melanie tonight.

“Where is she?” I demanded.

“In a room at the Mayflower Hotel,” the opera rep said.

“Oh, crap! Who booked her a room?”

“Um … me,” he said. “Is that a prob—”

“Get her a suite,” I interrupted. “The biggest one they have.”

“Why?” he asked, his snub nose wrinkling in confusion. “How will that help her get better?”

“What was your name again?” I asked. “Patrick Riley.”

Figures; put a four-leaf clover in his lapel and he could’ve been the poster boy for Welcome to Ireland!

“And Patrick, how long have you been working for the opera company?” I asked gently.

“Three weeks,” he admitted.

“Just trust me on this.” Melanie required drama the way the rest of us needed water. If I hydrated her with a big scene now, Melanie might miraculously rally and forgo a big scene tonight.

“Send over a warm-mist humidifier,” I continued as Patrick whipped out a notebook and scribbled away, diligent as a cub reporter chasing his big break. “No, two! Get her lozenges, chamomile tea with honey, whatever you can think of. Buy out CVS. If Melanie wants a lymphatic massage, have the hotel concierge arrange it immediately. Here—” I pulled out my BlackBerry and scrolled down to the name of my private doctor.

“Call Dr. Rushman. If he can’t make it over there, have him send someone who can.”

Dr. Rushman would make it, I was sure. He’d drop whatever he was doing if he knew I needed him. He was the personal physician for the Washington Blazes basketball team.

My husband, Michael, was another one of the team’s co-owners.

“Got it,” Patrick said. He glanced down at my feet, turned bright red, and scampered away. Must’ve been my toe cleavage; it tends to have that effect on men.

I finished placing the final cupcake before checking my messages. By the time I read the frantic e-mails from Kate, who was trying to find out if Michael had any recently diagnosed illnesses like epilepsy or diabetes that we’d been keeping secret, it was already over.

While Armani-clad executives clustered around my husband, Bob the mail-room guy took one look at the scene and sped down the hallway, white envelopes scattering like confetti behind him. He sprinted to the receptionist’s desk and found the portable defibrillator my husband’s company had purchased just six months earlier. Then he raced back, ripped open Michael’s shirt, put his ear to Michael’s chest to confirm that my husband’s heart had stopped beating, and applied the sticky patches to Michael’s chest. “Analyzing …,” said the machine’s electronic voice. “Shock advisable.”

The Italian opera Orfeo ed Euridice is a love story. In it, Euridice dies and her grieving husband travels to the Underworld to try to bring her back to life. Melanie the soprano was scheduled to sing the heartbreaking aria that comes as Euridice is suspended between the twin worlds of Death and Life.

Maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me that Euridice’s aria was playing in my head as Bob the mail-room guy bent over my husband’s body, shocking Michael’s heart until it finally began beating again. Because sometimes, it seems to me as if all of the big moments in my life can be traced back to the gorgeous, timeworn stories of opera.

Four minutes and eight seconds. That’s how long my husband, Michael Dunhill, was dead.

Four minutes and eight seconds. That’s how long it took for my husband to become a complete stranger to me.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 89 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 90 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 19, 2011

    Kritters Ramblings

    After meeting the author and discussing the book at book club at One More Page bookstore, I can now say I love this author and this book even more. A story set near my home with two characters that throughout the book, I both loved and hated. Julia, a woman who grew up in a volatile household and was always trying to ensure that her future was better than her past. Michael, a hardworking guy who as time has passed spends more time at his office than at his home. Their communication was basically absent and their relationship was more like roommates than lovers.

    I adored this story and I will absolutely refrain from spoiling such a good ending - so this may be short and sweet. At this time in my life this was a perfect read as I have recently grown accustomed to the boy being away and I have learned to fill the time with more of the hobbies that I enjoy. When our journey ends which is soon, I will have to relearn how our lives mesh and we will be able to reestablish our relationship. As Julia has done, I have learned to lean on a close friend for companionship during the week (and the pup of course). I understood Julia's struggle to try to understand how to be back in a relationship and learn to trust her feelings with him.

    I can't say more because I loved this book and I want everyone to go find it and read away. The writing was easy for a day at the pool or curled up indoors. It was definitely one where you sit down to read and then hours just easily pass by. A great reflection on the relationship we have and the value we must hold in building and nurturing each relationship from friends to husbands to family.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Orginial and emotionally addicting!

    On the outside Julia seems to have it all, on the inside Julia is broken; her marriage has seemingly dissolved into a façade though Julia tries to convince herself it will pass. Once married to her best friend, Julia now looks at her husband and sees a stranger. When her world as she knows it changes in an instant, the four minutes and eight seconds following her husband collapse from cardiac arrest solidifies the change in motion. When Michael is revived, he emerges a changed man, eager to right his wrongs and reconnect with the one woman he has always loved. The question is will Julia be able to forgive, heal and trust the new man her husband has suddenly become when he has been a stranger for so long?

    Skipping a Beat amazed me. Sarah is a skillfully creative writer. Reading her novel was like sitting down with my best friend as she tearfully recaps a momentous occasion in her life. Her writing pierces the soul as you deeply become connected to Julia. I felt myself on the edge of my seat, patiently waiting as Julia told her story the way she needed to tell it. My emotions hung on every word as the novel twist and turns, exploring the complications of life, marriage, friendship and money. It was truly remarkable with an ending that left me in awe and completely satisfied. Julia's story is full of love, heartache and confusion as her hearts dilemma is displayed across the pages.

    I loved The Opposite of Me, Sarah's first novel, but Skipping a Beat has stolen my heart and brought about a whole new appreciation of women's fiction. Sarah simply raises the bar for authors with this simple yet complex look at one woman's marriage, as it slips away from her and is then given a second chance. It was realistic, emotional and dashed with humor to ease some of the intensity. I simply couldn't put this book down. I honestly wouldn't change a thing about this novel. I loved the writing style. I enjoyed reading Julia's story as if she tells it in the aftermath, intermixed with present and past details. It was like she was sharing the story with a future friend or a confidant and I felt as if I was the only one in the room with Julia as she told her story with raw emotion and honesty. It is truly a highly original, emotionally addictive novel that will leave you read for more from Sarah.

    Recommendation: Pre-order!
    Reviewed for acozyreaderscorner.blogspot

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Skipping a Beat! ...... What a great book! This author makes yo

    Skipping a Beat! ...... What a great book! This author makes you laugh, cry, etc. Story line was sooo very different. I really, really enjoyed it and highly recommend anything she writes. You feel like you're right there with the characters. This had the perfect ending for the whole story line - although still sad! Can't wait to read another one of her books! Hard to find such a good author. I read The Best of Us and loved that book also. Thanks for writing!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    One of the best books I've read in a long time

    This book was so much more than the average "chick" book, and it had me crying in the last three chapters. The heartbreaking reality of couples drifting apart or replacing each other with things is very real amongst our modern culture, and this is a look into the not-so-perfect lives of a rich couple that have a missed connection. The way Michael turned his life, and Julia's, in a completely different direction to find each other before he left earth for the last time is bittersweet, yet ever so romantic. A must read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Simply Spectacular!

    Skipping a Beat is a book that caught my eye the first time I heard about it, because not only was the cover stunning but the premise sounded intriguing as well as promising. Thankfully enough Sarah Pekkanen's Skipping a Beat was a book that took a hold of my heart with its very first sentence and didn't let go until the very last.

    This novel was so fantastic that I don't even know where to begin, though I guess I'll start where I always do...with the characters.

    One of the things I love most about adult fiction is the layers and layers of development and time the writers put into their main characters and the lives and relationships at hand and the same rang true with Skipping a Beat.

    For one, I adored Julia. She was a character who I never failed to root for, even when she did some pretty silly things, because she just felt so real to me. She made mistakes, she wasn't the perfect wife or friend at times but that didn't stop her from being someone I completely admired as as person, and the same was true about her husband Michael. Michael is that typical sweet and nerdy kid in high school that turns out to be a fabulous and brilliant guy during adulthood. What I liked most about them, though, was their relationship. It was complicated beyond relief, filled with so many unsaid things, but yet I could easily see how much they loved each other even when they couldn't weren't able to. Better yet, I loved the questions Sarah brought about me with their relationship. Questions like, how far would I go to try to understand someone I used and still love? How much change is too much change? How far can a person go before loosing all faith in a person and calling it quits once and for all? How would I feel if someone asked me to rewrite the rules of my relationship? It was a thoughtproking read to say the least.

    I also enjoyed the plot in this once again because of the layers and layers of details and twists and turns that will have nearly any reader on the edge of their seat dying to know what will happen next. Best of all, when mixed with the characters and Sarah's excellent writing, this book was one I couldn't put down, not even for a second.

    Lastly, I have to say something about the ending in this, though I won't giveaway anything. It was heartbreaking to say the least, though the impact it left on me as well as the characters it involved made it worth it in the end, and it also shows just how brilliant of a writer Ms. Pekkanen is.

    In all, readers of adult fiction, teen fiction, or a mix of both, you all must read this one! It's simply amazing, a heartbreaking and heartwarming book that I'm still thinking about even though I finished it several days ago.

    Grade: A+

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Magnificent!!! I LOVED it and forever will!

    Reviewer: Stephanie
    Sarah Pekkanen probes the intricacy and raw verity of affection and marriage in her new novel, as well as the power, and the greed, that envelopes the human conscience from within, ruining every last drop of happiness that one can maintain.

    The plot of Skipping a Beat is extremely original and intriguing. Julia's husband, Michael, is finally, after years of determination and self surrender, a part of the rich and respected social elite, thanks to his successful, multimillion-dollar health beverage company, DrinkUp. Julie and Mike can finally live the life they've always dreamed of from their poor slums of adolescence. Then one day, one seemingly perfect, normal day, Julia's life shatters when she discovers Michael entered cardiac arrest for four minutes and eight seconds. Her husband was dead for four minutes and eight seconds.

    His revival is nothing short of a miracle; after all, how many people get a second chance at life? Michael recognizes this a little too well, though -- once he's back in Julie's arms, he's intent on making his second time around focused on his love for his wife, not on his company, his life.

    I was a little disappointed at Julia's reaction at Michael's decision. You'd think a woman who nearly just lost her husband would be supportive of his afterlife crisis. You'd think the frustration she feels when learning her husband's company -- all the money he's worked hard for -- is going to charity, would dissipate after learning he was doing it all for her. But the largest, most stubborn conflict Julia experiences is ruling out whether or not she should leave Michael now that he no longer has his company. I found this incredibly selfish of Julia. Since she was raised by a gambling addict and never was able to live out the luxuries of life, I understand why Julia would be upset at first. But to drag it out during the entire length of the novel? That's a little shallow. Her outlook on Michael's abrupt, but still emotionally generous new purpose is: leave him and grab all the savings she can before they're all donated, or stay married and live a middle class life. Nearly dying gives Michael a new-found vision to his life; he apprehends that money isn't what matters. After you're gone, the one thing you'll regret most is not spending enough time with those you love, not what you could and couldn't purchase. Julia never seems to reach this discovery, which is when the reader realizes, maybe her marriage was doomed in the first place.

    The book flashes back to all of Julia's unhappy moments. The time when Michael missed their anniversary because he was on a business trip. The time when Michael promised to go with her to her favorite opera, but stood her up. The time when Julia found out about his affair, then went ahead to engage in one of her own. It is revealed that Julia and Michael's marriage isn't what it's hyped up to be, and that it was screwed up even before Michael's cardiac arrest.

    However, Michael is now a new person, one who doesn't care for the wealth or the power. And maybe, just maybe, this time, they can make it work out.

    The saddest part is, just when Julia deciphers this prominent message about true love and self renewal, she loses her chance to make it all better. Too deeply involved with her inner turmoils of concern over money, she loses the opportunity to start over again, in Skipping a Beat's unanticipated, provoking finish.

    I absolutely cannot believe how the b

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  • Posted April 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Highly (and Very Emotionally) Recommend This - Loved this book!

    I loved, loved this book. With characters I couldn't get enough of, from Julia's best friend Isabelle to the brilliant and quirky kid named Noah, this book was a treat from start to finish. And with it all, Julia's love of opera kept me even more entranced. I had forgotten how much those soaring tragedies can pierce right into you - it's because they so easily represent real life.

    And that is how I fell in love with it all. The book, the characters, the vision Michael had to draft a new marriage with Julia. I found myself clutching the book, hunkering down in my couch, turning the pages. My husband asked me if I was going to bed, and I could only weakly wave my hand to him over the back of the couch, as I prayed that he wouldn't walk around to see why I wasn't talking. Yep. I was a blubbering mess.

    Sarah Pekkanen has created a new lifelong fan in me. I'll be eagerly awaiting her next book and will get The Opposite of Me to tide me over. And also downloading opera to my computer like there is no tomorrow.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

    BookHounds

    This is the most emotional book I have read in a long time. I actually had to take breaks while reading this since I was so drawn into the story and how real the whole thing seemed. Within pages, I felt like I had known Julia my whole life. I could feel her fear and how much she loved Michael, yet realize they had grown apart. Like most marriages they had forgotten those moments that create the relationship. The ending was exactly how it had to be, although I never saw it coming. I ended up in tears several times, but any author who can create that kind of connection is something special. This is in my top ten for the year!

    I really felt the author made Julia more accessible by taking great pains to detail her relationship with money and her father and how this history makes her responses to Michael quitting his job very realistic. She sees the money as the security she never had as a child and when Michael decides to give everything away without discussing it with her, that trust is broken.

    Julia tries to understand Michael and what happened between them and how they have grown apart. She reflects and makes correlations through the music and stories of opera that she has found as an escape. In a way, the story is an opera. Also, Julia meets someone who puts everything in perspective in the body of a boy. She introduces Noah to Michael and that child becomes the catalyst that rebuilds their relationship.

    This is probably one of the hardest reviews I have ever written. The story felt like it was ripped from my own life since my husband decided to quit his job on New Years Eve 1999, without much warning. They always say truth is stranger than fiction, but it is pretty hard to imagine someone else capturing my exact thoughts and feelings, but that is exactly what Sarah Pekkanen did. I received this book at no charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2014

    Amazing tear jerker!

    Great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014

    Amazing

    Best book

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  • Posted August 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A Beautiful Novel of Love and Forgiveness

    What a beautifully written novel about love, marriage, and loss. Sarah is such an incredible writer and accomplished author! I have recently read all of her books (with the exception of The Opposite of Me, which I am saving until last) and her three short stories – each are uniquely different and all 5 stars!

    Sarah does everything with feeling (you will laugh and cry)-she does not miss a beat. What I enjoy the most is the raw emotion, her writing style, and the way she describes every detail, making each setting so realistic. Each part of the story unfolded at just the right time.
    The real love of this couple as teens, and their heart breaking childhood, to their struggles coming from such a poor background, their tenacity and challenges to excel in the world – and finally achieving the money and success. However, it took a near death experience and giving up the money to make them truly happy.

    You will fall in love with each of the characters as each has a special place in this beautifully written story - have some Kleenex handy! A lesson for each of us in today's busy and demanding world –to demonstrate the meaning of love and forgiveness.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    Prety good, did drag

    It made me tear :( overall i liked the plot and the characters throughout the book BUT she does talk a lot about opera...to much...it was a drag during those parts..if you're familiar with opera you'll enjoy it more

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2012

    Great book

    This was our first Book Club book and what a way to start a Book Club! Sarah is the best

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2011

    Keep reading..it gets better! But sooo sad

    At first i hated it...she gave way too many details about insignificant events in the past and i almost gave up on finishing it but after Michael's heart attack it gets alot better! It hurts to see how hard hes trying despite her pushing him away, all the while sensing they have limited time together. I dont cry easily but i bawled my eyes out in the end

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  • Posted August 2, 2011

    Best book I have read in a long time!

    This is the first book by Sarah P. that I have read and all I can say is WOW! She is excellent, she knows how to really make you feel like you are there and part of the charachters lives. I felt so many emotions, I literally laughed out loud, I cried, I felt pain. This book is a must read!! I am looking forward to reading her other book and for more to come.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    I really enjoyed this book. I was shocked by how much I thought about it when I wasn't reading it. I didn't want to put it down when I was reading it. A must read!

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Okay Read

    I read so many great reviews about this book and really thought I would love it but didn't. A book about the age-old choice between love and money, the writing seemed forced and trite at times. I thought the ending was pretty good but all in all, it was simply okay. Read Pekkanen's The Opposite of Me for an excellent read!

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  • Posted May 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I loved it!

    I absolutely loved this book! The book was so touching and heartfelt that I didn't want the story to end. I can't wait to read more of Sarah Pekkanen's books.

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    Disappointing

    Much of this book, its characters, and plot progression is just plain unbelievable. I got on a cross country flight and read it on board, only because I had nothing else to do. I was truly a captive audience for this one! Will not buy this author's works again.

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  • Posted April 22, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    I loved this book and could not stop reading it. It was a delightful book.

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