Reviewed by Alisha Churbe

During a meeting in his company’s boardroom, Julia’s husband, Michael, suffers a heart attack and dies for four minutes and eight seconds. In that time, he determines to change everything about his life. To his wife, he is no longer the man she married and is threatening the life they’ve worked so hard to build together.

Michael and Julia were high school sweethearts, but not the cliché. Don’t worry, there isn’t a cheerleader or football player in sight. They just happened to meet in high school and managed to grow up together, reaching mutual goals. Goal #1 was to get out of West Virginia and move to Washington DC where their life began separate from the families. Through successful businesses, financial gains and achieving their goals, we see everything leading up to this turning point.

The two characters are powerful together and determined to succeed. It is only when they begin to act alone and split forces that they begin to fall apart, but it isn’t a quick process. It wasn’t a small moment that defined the split, it’s a culmination of a hundred little moments, both real and fabricated that change their trajectory. The moments that Michael spends dead on the floor reveal to him how far apart the two have grown. He becomes determines to become a better person and to reconnect with Julia.

The unexpected twists in the plot well outweigh the instances of predictability. While success and ambition are major themes in Skipping a Beat, Pekkanen also explores issues of trust and guilt by subjecting Michael and Julia to fabricated accusations and acts of retaliation. Michael and Julia are well developed characters and they take control of the story and share every detail, both good and bad, of their relationship.

Skipping a Beat is an emotional and funny journey through growing up together, celebrating successes, drifting apart, and finding the way back to what is important. Some might be tempted to categorize the novel as ‘chick lit,’ but the story and characters are much more developed and truthful than I have encountered in a long time. And although Pekkanen’s story is told by a female narrator, she doesn’t fall into a plot full of the typical clichés.

Rating: 4/5

Check out our review of Pekkanen’s last novel, The Opposite of Me

Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe, lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Zach.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Washington Square Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.