My second round of "Pekkanen Until You Puke Month" (see back story), or the First Course, if you will, was "Skipping a Beat". Back when this book was first published, which was a little over a year ago, it made the rounds with many of you out there, and was well-loved. You can blame my slow uptake on any number of things...TBR glut, over-commitment, global warming...but it really just comes down to laziness. But motivated by a New Year's Resolution am I! Bingeing on Pekkanen is better than bingeing on pizza or Girl Scout cookies anyway.
Synopsis: Julia and Michael were high school sweethearts, originally drawn together by their unhappy family circumstances and their desire to break the cycle and make successes of themselves. And it happened. Julia runs her own event planning company, and Michael invented the predecessor to Vitamin Water and made millions. They live in a mansion, they have servants, they own a basketball team, they have the world at their feet.
Except something went very wrong along the way. The two have become distant. There have been affairs, Michael is a work-a-holic, children were disregarded because of their busy schedule. And Julia is lonelier than she has ever been.
Then one day, in the middle of a board meeting, Michael has a heart attack and dies...for four minutes and eight seconds. He comes back changed, reborn, ready to forego his millions, reinvent his marriage and make things right. But can it really be that easy, after everything that has happened? Can Julia just forgive him and start over? Can she walk away from everything she has worked for? How dare he change the rules on her?
My thoughts: Sometimes when you pick up a book and start reading, things just feel familiar. The writing flows, the characters make sense, and you become immediately invested. That is how I felt here.
Don't get me wrong, I initially got really mad. Julia's first reaction, after hearing that Michael had survived his heart attack and wanted to give everything away, was fury. I thought she acted cold, spoiled and heartless. The guy had almost DIED! But then Pekkanen begins to slowly reveal the back story. We learn why Julia has issues, and thus begins the character study of these two people who were once very much in love. And after some really bitter angst, the story turns into something almost precious. A re-evaluation of life.
And speaking of a re-evaluation of life, I suddenly got a whiff of dejavu while reading this. In many ways, this story reminded me of "What Alice Forgot", a 5- star read for me last summer. In that book, Alice conks her head and thinks she is the woman she was ten years prior. But she isn't, and she sees her current-but-not-so-hot life with fresh eyes. Fresh eyes is always a good lesson, a good reminder.
I will also warn you, sans spoilers, that this book will very likely make you cry. I've been on quite a roll here lately with the tears. I'm only telling you so you don't finish the book in public.
In a sea of forgettable women's fiction novels, this one stands out as something just a little different, something special, something you will want to read again.
4.5 out of 5 stars