Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: Skipping a Beat

In Sarah Pekkanen's "Skipping a Beat," what happened during four minutes and eight seconds causes Julia's and Michael's relationship to change forever. The power couple began their courtship as high school sweethearts. They wanted to leave difficult childhoods behind and achieve financial security. What they didn't realize during the romantic, early days of their marriage was that the successful careers and wealthy lifestyle they thought they wanted would cost them.

Michael's heart stops beating for four minutes and eight seconds during a board meeting of his massive DrinkUp beverage company. When he returns from death, he no longer wants to be the driven executive he'd become. Instead, he wants to slow down and revive the love Julia and he had felt for each other as teenagers.

Julia enjoys their current status, fancy cars, and sprawling home, but Michael believes they must give it all up to return to their original state of happiness. Julia isn't sure she's willing to make that exchange. The novel explores the complexities of marriage. It challenges the belief that once the rules in a relationship have been established, they can't be rewritten.

Julia is a stubborn but witty and endearing heroine. At times, I found myself rooting for her. At other times, I wanted to yell, "What are you thinking???" While reading the book, I felt like I was watching my best friend go through a difficult time, and hoping it would never happen to me. I did not visit death like Michael did. But the possibility of it has changed Rob's and my marriage forever, in subtle, positive ways. Pekkanen's account of a couple adjusting to a life-changing event is spot on. It's filled with the sweet and the bittersweet that happens during that process.

Not only is Sarah Pekkanen a skilled writer, but she is a warm, terrific person. When I met her, I found her just as charming as Julia in "Skipping a Beat" and Lindsey in her debut novel, "The Opposite of Me." Both books are great summer reads, and luckily, there is still a lot of summer left.