Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: Skipping a Beat

By Melissa Amster

While replenishing my stash of ice cream after a power outage last week, I came across the selection of Breyer's and nearly cried in the middle of the supermarket. That goes to show the power of some simple symbolism in Sarah Pekkanen's latest tearjerker, "Skipping a Beat."

Julie and Mike first become connected to one another because of a dangerous man who was released from prison and a bag of quickly melting Breyer's ice cream. Soon they're spending all their time together and moving out of their small town to the nation's capital to start new lives for themselves and as a couple. After they get married and Mike (now known as Michael) becomes extremely successful and wealthy, things change in their marriage, and not always for the better. Then Michael goes into cardiac arrest and his whole perspective on life changes, taking Julie (now known as Julia) along for a bumpy ride. Soon Julia has to decide what is most important to her and the reader will learn some interesting truths about this dynamic, yet complex couple as a result.

After reading "The Opposite of Me" last year and falling in love with it instantly, I knew I had to get my hands on "Skipping a Beat" as soon as possible. I had only heard good reviews about it from some others who were also lucky enough to get advanced copies. Once I had my own copy, I devoured it and didn't want to put it down. Michael and Julia's story was so poignant and heartbreaking that it made me fall in love with my own husband all over again. (Not that it's so difficult or anything...) Even when I wasn't reading it, I was still thinking about it. And when I finally got to the last page, I had tears streaming down my face. (It's rare when a book can make me cry, but this one definitely deserves a tearjerker award.) Ms. Pekkanen takes her readers on an emotional roller coaster and doesn't stop until the very end. Her characters and dialogue feel so real that it's difficult to not get completely drawn in to the story. Even the supporting characters are believable and it's obvious whether you should like or hate them along with the main characters. Throughout the story, Ms. Pekkanen talks a lot about opera and math. I don't have much of an interest in either, but she makes them sound so intriguing that I keep thinking about both topics now. I liked how she intertwined them within the story and made comparisons with what was going on in Julia and Michael's lives at the time.

The only criticism I have is part of the storyline didn't feel consistent enough. There's a sub plot involving Julia's relationship with her father. There's one line in the middle of the story that makes the reader feel like Julia is going to explain more, but she never really does and the relationship with her father seems slightly confusing from that point onward. Her relationship with her father also reminds me of the relationship between Diane and her father in "Say Anything," which is also wrought with inconsistency at times. However, this in no way took away from how much I loved the novel as a whole.

I highly recommend "Skipping a Beat" to anyone who wants a beautifully told love story and a moment of catharsis. And if it also makes you crave Breyer's ice cream, then get out a spoon and dig in!

Sarah Pekkanen will be visiting Chick Lit Central soon with a guest blog and a giveaway of this novel. Stay tuned!


Unknown said...

Great review Melissa, I can't wait to read.

Unknown said...

Yay!! I couldn't wait for you to read it to and see your thoughts. It's interesting that you say that the relationship with her dad is inconsistent. I didn't really pull that from the book. I guess I was satisfied with the amount of information given because he was just a sub plot and gave reason for her background and current insecurities. I obviously didn't care to know much more about him... Haha maybe I should have.