Title: Skipping a Beat
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “What would you do if your husband suddenly wanted to rewrite the rules of your relationship?”
Thoughts: I have a secret. I was not a fan of Ms. Pekkanen’s first novel. It wasn’t that it was a horrible novel; I just felt that it was lighter, simplistic chick lit that is perfectly fine and is acceptable but not my typical fare. Yet, when Jen from Devourer of Books insisted I would love her newest novel, that she cried for the last 25 pages, and that I would love it, I had to trust her judgment and give Skipping a Beat a chance.
It was with a huge amount of skepticism and doubt I approached the first few pages. Julia is a demanding character, as she is completely unsympathetic and extremely selfish in the beginning. This challenges the reader to understand her reactions. Yet, there is something about her struggles that is compelling. As she reminisces about her past with Michael, the reader begins to understand why Julia stresses so much about Michael’s life-changing decision. As she grows, she becomes more sympathetic, and as she does, the story takes on new life. While the plot is somewhat predictable, there are many hints and foreshadowing that makes one consider the idea that the predictability is deliberate. Thankfully, this predictability does not detract from the overall plot. Instead, it builds a layer of foreboding among the hope that Julia’s struggle creates.
Ms. Pekkanen’s writing is simple but beautiful. She explores Michael’s and Julia’s past deftly, using each word efficiently and precisely to evoke the right amount emotion and mental stimulation. Her descriptions are concise but quite effective, evoking more than just a mental picture but also hinting at so much more. Without this exacting writing, this story could have quickly devolved into nothing but schmaltz. Instead, Ms. Pekkanen pulls it off with aplomb.
I will be the first one to admit that I was so very wrong – wrong to doubt Jen, wrong to doubt Ms. Pekkanen and wrong about my original skepticism. Skipping a Beat is an amazing novel. Yes, I cried. More importantly, I cried at the beach surrounded by friends. If I didn’t have an audience who kept checking to see if I would break down, I might even have sobbed. It is an amazing story of love past, present and future and the challenges couples face in the ongoing work/life balance struggle and well worth the accolades it is already beginning to earn among book bloggers. It is definitely not one to be missed.
Thank you to Jen for letting me read her advanced reading copy!