30 May 2011

Skipping a Beat

By Sarah Pekkanen
Published by Washington Square Press
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada

"What would you do if your husband suddenly wanted to rewrite the rules of your relationship?"

Michael Dunhill lives an exceptionally wealthy life. He runs his own company, has a massive home, owns a basketball team, and shares every material thing he has with his high school sweetheart, his wife Julia. Julia also runs her own company, making sure she has some money of her own should her marriage to Michael ever fall apart. Not that she envisions her marriage ending but, given her family background, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Unfortunately for Julia, Michael dies...for four minutes and eight seconds, before a portable defibrillator jump-starts him back to life.

But with a new chance at life comes a new Michael. The old Michael had little time to spend with Julia and a lot of time to spend with his business. Julia settled for this arrangement; after all, she had a lifestyle that would be the envy of any woman and a good single female friend to share her evenings with. The new Michael has decided to give away all his money and material possessions and spend his time loving his wife the way he did when they were young. Julia's not so sure she wants to give up her lifestyle for the promises made by this new Michael, but she goes along with his plan to give him three weeks before she makes her decision.

Pekkanen takes the reader from the past (where Mike and Julie met and fell in love) to the present (where Michael and Julia find fame and fortune - and adjust their names to reflect their new social status). Mike and Julie are likeable characters, the kind of characters you root for - you want good things to happen to them. Michael and Julia are not as likeable. Both are caught up in the lifestyle wealth has afforded them and they have drifted apart as a couple.

Pekkanen is trying to make us think about what we would do if our spouse decided to give away everything we have worked for to live on love (or at least live a more modest lifestyle). As we see Julia struggle with her decision, there are moments the reader hates her but also moments where the reader can identify with her struggle. Michael's character doesn't get off lightly, either. There are moments when you despise him, as well. Kudos to Pekkanen for showing all sides of the emotional conflicts that come with this situation.

Overall, I found this to be quite an enjoyable book. I wanted to know what Julia's decision was and I wanted to know what influenced her decision. This is the first novel I have read by Pekkanen and she's won me over with her easy to read style. I look forward to reading more by this author.

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