Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: "Skipping a Beat" by Sarah Pekkanen

Julia Dunhill has everything that she's ever wanted- on the surface, at least. Married to her high-school sweetheart, Michael, owner of her own successful business and living in a gorgeous home in Washington, D.C., she seems set for life. The fact that her own husband feels like a stranger and her marriage has been falling apart for some time now seems like a small price to pay in exchange for the financial security that she now has, in sharp contrast to the lack of financial security that she experienced as a child.

When her husband stands up from the head of the table in his company's boardroom and promptly collapses onto the floor, little does Julia know that her whole world is about to change. Michael's heart stops beating for 4 minutes and 8 seconds and when he wakes up he seems to have undergone a complete personality transformation. He seems determined to give away all of the money that he has accumulated and he seems equally determined to make his wife fall in love with him all over again. Will Julia be willing to go along with her husband's crazy plans in order to rediscover their marriage, or will it be too much for her and will she choose to walk away?

Skipping a Beat is a thought-provoking look at both marriage and being wealthy. I was captivated from the beginning, and I have to say that I enjoyed it even more than Pekkanen's debut novel The Opposite of Me, which I also loved. What I liked so much about this book is that is raised some interesting questions which I really took the time to think about. Julia, in the story, has never been wealthy. In fact we find out that she was the opposite of wealthy and that an addiction of her father's kept her from having any kind of financial security as a child. She marries her high school sweetheart and they are both astonished when Michael's company hits the big time. Suddenly they are wealthy beyond their wildest imaginings, and don't have to want for anything. The big question raised in Skipping a Beat is this: Does money truly equal happiness? From the perspective of an outsider Julia would appear to have nothing to be unhappy about, yet when we take a closer look at Julia's life we see that there are important things in her life that she has given up in order to achieve wealth and that she is no happier than she was when she didn't have money. Her own husband often feels like a stranger to her, her old friends have abandonded her and she is surrounded by people who are superficial. Does having money make Julia truly happy? No. It raises the question, then, that if any one of us random people suddenly accumulated large quantities of money, would it make us happy? Or would we have to sacrifice pieces of our happiness in exchange for great wealth?

Sarah Pekkanen has written an engaging, interesting novel- one that I thoroughly enjoyed and would not hesitate to recommend. She has created characters that seem to leap off the page, has raised thought-provoking questions, and she writes beautifully. She wraps everything up with a surprise ending that I certainly didn't see coming. Skipping a Beat comes out tomorrow (Feburary 22, 2011) and I urge you to go out and pick up a copy for yourself.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Challenges: 2011 100+ Reading Challenge


  1. Everyone seems to be raving about this book - can't wait to pick it up!

  2. Great review of an excellent story. :)

  3. YES! I loved it too - my review goes live tomorrow and I think I will make it a whole Pekkanen day! I adored this book!

  4. I could NOT agree more. There's something very, very special about this book!!

  5. Oh, I absolutely adored this book, so I'm so glad that you did too1!!