Skipping a Beat

Skipping a Beat

by Sarah Pekkanen

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451609820
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: 02/22/2011
Edition description: Original
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 545,572
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Sarah Pekkanen is the bestselling author of The Ever After, The Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, These Girls, The Best of Us, Catching Air, Things You Won’t Say, and The Perfect Neighbors. Her work has been published in People, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY, among other publications. She lives with her family in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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.

  • Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for These Girls includes discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. Questions and Topics for Discussion 1. Discuss the role of work in each girl’s life. To what extent do they find a sense of identity in their jobs? How do they define success or failure in their work lives, and how does either affect the way they think about themselves? 2. Each character in These Girls seems to be facing both an internal and an external struggle. Can you identify these? Are these struggles resolved by the novel’s conclusion? 3. Did you initially empathize with Abby or Joanna? Did your feelings toward Joanna change as the novel progressed? Does the fact that Abby has an affair with a married man make her less of a sympathetic character to you? Why or why not? 4. Describe the ways that each girl interacts with and connects to other people. How are their relationship styles similar, and how are they different? 5. Given the close bond that Trey and Abby share, do you think that he should have told her what happened to their brother? Why or why not? 6. How are mother-daughter relationships depicted in this novel? Was there one dynamic in particular that you identified with? 7. After Cate reminds her mother not to call her at work, she thinks to herself, “It felt odd to be imposing such restrictions and curfews on her mother, as if they’d somehow swapped roles during the past few years” (78). To what extent is this true of all the parent-child relationships we see in These Girls? 8. What is These Girls saying about the role—and effect—of secrets in relationships? Are some secrets necessary, or are they all inherently negative? Do you agree with Abby’s assessment that “The hardest things to talk about are also the most important things to talk about?” 9. Discuss some of the challenges that Cate’s new job presents. How does she handle these? In particular, what role does gender seem to play in them? 10. Each girl sees something in another of her roommates’ disposition that she covets. What are these qualities? Is this kind of desire an essential component of female friendship? 11. In the last scene of the novel, Cate tells Trey, “I don’t want to be the girl who chose a guy over her friends.” How did you feel about their final encounter? Did you agree with how Cate handled this situation? Would you have handled it differently? 12. Ostensibly, Renee wants to lose weight because she thinks it will help her nab the beauty editor job. But does she have other reasons? What else could be driving her? 13. If you were casting the film version of These Girls, who would you pick to play each character? Why? 14. Picture where you see Cate, Renee, and Abby in five years. What do their lives look like? Share your imaginings with your group.

    Customer Reviews

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    Skipping a Beat 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
    KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
    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.
    IsabellaRenae More than 1 year ago
    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
    LC112648LC More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Lauren817 More than 1 year ago
    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+
    RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
    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
    NatalieTahoe More than 1 year ago
    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.
    BookHounds More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Florinda on LibraryThing 17 days ago
    It can be difficult to acknowledge that you¿re no longer the same person at 35 that you were at 18. (It can be difficult to acknowledge you¿re 35, period.) And when you¿re partnered with the same person at 35 that you were with at 18, acknowledging that neither of you are the same people any more can be downright threatening to life as you know it, but sometimes circumstances force it on you anyway. It happens to a lot of us, but not necessarily the way it happens to Julia Dunhill in Sarah Pekkanen¿s second novel, Skipping a Beat.Julia and Michael have been together since they were Julie and Mike, small-town kids from West Virginia who shared a desire to make good in the world and the drive to work to make it happen. And they HAVE made it, with material success beyond anything they might have imagined back when they were younger...but now it feels like they share little besides their enormous home and possessions, and they¿ve gotten used to living that way. It all changes on the day Michael comes back from a near-death experience - and he¿s come back ready to change everything else.Pekkanen has written the novel in Julia¿s first-person voice, and one thing that struck me is that she¿s not afraid to make her narrator unsympathetic at times. Julia¿s pondering over whether to stay with her husband after he¿s declared his intention to give away everything he has could easily be viewed as materialistic and heartless, under the circumstances. But Julia is also pondering how she and Michael got to the place they¿re in now, and that provides a context for the reader to understand that her concerns aren¿t as strictly materialistic as they may seem. While she may not always come across as sympathetic - or maybe because of that - Julia did come across to me as emotionally honest and complicated, and I was impressed with Pekkanen¿s ability to portray that.I was also impressed with the novel¿s exploration of the complexities of marriage. Julia is made to confront the often-unspoken compromises and agreements couples sometimes make so that they won¿t be forced to examine things too closely, the separation that can develop - and come to feel normal - between two too-busy people, and the challenges of communication, and I thought that these elements were effectively incorporated into the story. I found some of the situations in the novel a little contrived and wasn¿t always convinced by the characters¿ behavior in those situations, but I did feel that the characters¿ emotional portrayal rang true and was quite convincing, and I really appreciate the author¿s ability to bring that across to me.I still haven¿t gotten around to reading Sarah Pekkanen¿s first novel, The Opposite of Me, but I¿m not at all sorry I didn¿t wait to read her second. Skipping a Beat presents a rather unique situation with a degree of emotional honesty that makes it accessible and satisfying.
    Sharn on LibraryThing 17 days ago
    Cute book! I liked this one much better than Opposite of Me. This book is about losing yourself and how we take the most important things in life for granted. I really liked how the book was written and how it slowly unfolded, how Julia took a long time to let her guard down, made it seem more real.Definite recommend.
    reading_crystal on LibraryThing 17 days ago
    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 magnificient 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.
    whitreidtan on LibraryThing 17 days ago
    Julia and Michael have been living separate lives for a long time now. So when Michael has a heart attack and "dies" for over 4 minutes, Julia is jolted by the strength of her reaction. But that pales in comparison with her reaction to the Michael who now inhabits her husband's body. He is caring and concerned and determined to make their marriage strong and loving, like it once was. He seems to need to atone for so may things that he has done wrong, chief among them letting his wife drift away as he concentrated single-mindedly on the business that made him extremely, obscenely wealthy.As Michael works hard to woo Julia back, he also drops the bombshell that he is selling his company and giving away all of his money. He says that he has realized that the money has never made him happy but Julia struggles with his decision and debates whether she wants a relationship with her husband at all. Small pieces of their past together (they were high school sweethearts) start emerging in this tale of marriage, love, second chances, and forgiveness. And as Julia's former life comes out, the reader understands her reluctance to trust Michael and her terror at the thought of all of the money being given away.I had a few issues with the story, the largest being that Michael did not see that his unilateral decisions for their marriage were just that: unilateral. I know that the point was made that Julia and Michael's finances were intentionally kept separate but their life was not. The lifestyle that his money bought, the houses, the shopping, the high profile friends and acquaintances was all of a piece and his decision to give it all away without any input from Julia was still selfish even if he paid for it all. A marriage is a partnership and since that was what Michael was trying to hard to resurrect in their marriage, it was a little hard to swallow that he would go about it in such a singular way. The other biggish issue that I had was that the ending was a little overly foreshadowed. It was better than the only other alternative I can imagine given the story arc though so I can mostly forgive the predictability.Julia, as a character, is very sympathetic. She is completely real. The massive amounts of money that she has become accustomed to having has not changed who she fundamentally is inside. She's still the poor girl from WV who is unexpectedly uncomfortable in this new world. She is a good and loyal friend who cares deeply about the happiness and lives of the people around her. She is the kind of woman who can befriend a captivating young boy playing with his dog beside a river, finding a sweet companionship in his company. She is the woman who can put on the perfect benefit or event be it large or small and who thrives on doing so. She's also the woman who has not been able to forgive her father for his gambling addiction and the effect that had on her mother, nevermind the way in which it damaged her own ability to trust. As she faces the reality of the new Michael and his desire to make up to her all the neglect and disinterest that has been the hallmark of so much of their marriage, she debates her options, never knowing herself what she is finally going to choose to do until she is actually in the moment. The reader feels her pain and confusion, understands it, even as we also understand that she still loves her husband, the man he once was and the man he seems to be trying so hard to prove that he can be again.Ultimately the story is sweet and takes a close look at the reality of marriage, the way in which love is just the starting point to which so much other junk is added, sometimes to the point that that love is buried and obscured. Money and trust and time itself are all major issues in any marriage and Pekkanen has teased out a tale where they take top billing and she has done so with originality and sensitivity.
    RtB on LibraryThing 17 days ago
    Reviewer: StephanieSarah 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 book ended, and am so touched by Pekkanen's thoughtful, sempiternal story, that it has now ranked among my favorites.Along with an impactful, tragic, yet still hopeful story, Pekkanen writes with such grace and ease, that I couldn't put down the book once I started. Best of all, Julia's voice is fresh and witty; traits most characters fall flat in when attempting. I literally had laugh-out-loud moments reading Julia's observations, and really enjoy the way she portrays and compares everyday things in her life.Skipping a Beat's
    amandajoy30 on LibraryThing 17 days ago
    I really enjoyed this book. When I first started it, I thought it was going to be self absorbed. It wasn't. I liked how she dealt with the main characters struggle of trying to figure out whether she still loved her husband or if she was just staying with him for the money and the security that it bought. I also liked how the author wrote about life and death without getting sappy or preachy.
    girlsgonereading on LibraryThing 17 days ago
    Skipping a Beat included a very dynamic main character whose ever shifting perspective kept me on my toes. Early on in the novel, you don¿t particularly like Julia.And although ¿early¿ Julia wasn¿t my favorite, Pekkanen does a great job of creating empathy for her even when you can¿t understand her reasoning. As a reader, Julia¿s motives are suspect. Why would you stay with someone just for money? How can a house make up for love?Questions like these kept racing through my head in the beginning of the novel, but Pekkanen answered them slowly. And as I got a better sense of Julia¿s past, her thoughts, and her wishes I grew to like her and her husband immensely.Without giving away the ending, I will let you know that Skipping a Beat left me teary eyed. Pekkanen created characters that I grew to love and wove a plot that I could see coming but that challenged me anyway.
    amachiski on LibraryThing 17 days ago
    The book opens with a near-death experience then begins to delves into the complex relationship that the husband and wife share and how their marriage began to fail as money was introduced into their life. They began to rediscover one another again once their fortune is taken out of the equation. I thought this would be a simple chick
    ethel55 on LibraryThing 17 days ago
    I am still mulling over the entirety of this novel, but Michael and Julia's story was thought provoking. Michael's brush with a heart attack and subsequent changes on his views of life and marriage are certainly warranted. I thought Pekkanen did a great job with Julia's character and made her likeable even with her reticence. Julia and Michael's success at life doesn't have to be the only thing that defines them, this is a very interesting journey.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I haven't cried over a book since I read "My Sister's Keeper", but I did for this one. Honestly, the book's description kind of turned me off, but I've been enjoying this author, and I figured I'd give it a try.... I was hooked from the beginning. It was so different from what I had thought when I read the description - that it would be a money driven woman fretting over her husband giving it all away. I was dead wrong! Beautifully written, I was wrapped up in all of the characters, and I couldn't put it down! This is definitely a " Must Read"!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    At first i did not think i would like tbis but the more you read the better it gets wonderful story but glad i borrowed too much money for a book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Fabulous story!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book had the perfect pace! I finished it days ago and still can't stop talking about it. It had me in tears for the last gew pages. Anyone who disagrees that this book absolutely is a 5-star book does not know a good book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great book!
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Best book
    quaintinns More than 1 year ago
    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.