“Julia and Michael meet in high school in their small, poverty-stricken West Virginia hometown. Both products of difficult childhoods — Julia’s father is a compulsive gambler and Michael’s mother abandoned his family when he was a young boy – they find a sense of safety and mutual understanding in each other. Shortly after graduation they flee West Virginia to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar,Washington D.C. home. From the outside it all looks perfect – Julia has become a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has launched a wildly successful flavored water company that he sold for $70 million.
But one day Michael stands up at the head of the table in his company’s boardroom — then silently crashes to the floor. More than four minutes later, a portable defibrillator manages to jump-start his heart. Yet what happened to Michael during those lost minutes forever changes him. Money is meaningless to him now – and he wants to give it all away to charity. A prenuptial agreement that Julia insisted upon back when Michael’s company was still struggling means she has no claim to his fortune, and now she must decide: should she walk away from the man she once adored, but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before his near-death experience – or should she give in to her husband’s pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?” ~ Goodreads
“Women’s Fiction”. I’m not sure I like that category for this book but I guess it is better than “Chick-Lit”. I was once obsessed with that genre in my early thirties when I was newly married and embarking on parenthood. But like everything else (for me) I got bored with the same old, same old and started reading other genres. That’s why The Daily Dosage features many different books. Like myself, there are different stories that appeal to my many moods and needs.
In May, Sarah Pekkanen’s newest book, Catching Air will be released and I requested it for a few reasons: my earlier close relationship with “Chick-Lit”, an interesting synopsis for a story and to read from yet another author who I was unfamiliar with. I’ll be honest, there are books that I’ve requested that don’t make it to this blog. Ones left unfinished and not my cup-of tea. But I got over feeling bad about it because there are numerous books which I didn’t care for that receive lots of praise from other bookish fans. I keep my comments between me and the publisher. Also, I didn’t ever want a blog where making fun of someone’s work was a primary focus. I’ll just let the other wonderfully snarky and talented reviewers take care of that job, which I smugly enjoy in private.
So anyway, I wanted to read something from Pekkanen’s catalog to become familiar with her voice and see if I liked her writing and stories. And sure enough, I do! This story about a shell of a marriage had me invested from page one. At times, I was questioning how two people who seemingly were in love at one time, could mess up their relationship royally. But it’s not uncommon to lose oneself in a career and forget about all the important people around you. Not only a career but to lose sight of what matters in your life. Pekkanen’s analogies of marriage and life were beautifully written and relatable:
“No, our marriage was more like spending an afternoon at the beach while the tide receded. You could be lying right there on the soft sand and not even notice the microscopic changes – the waves pulling back, inexorably pulling back – while the sun warmed your back and the happy shouts of children filled your ears. Then you’d look up from the last page in your novel and blink, feeling disoriented, wondering how the ocean had moved so far away and when everything around you had changed.”
The flashbacks and personal history were well placed to give the reader an insight to why Julia was so cold and Michael, indifferent. It’s easy to critique any story that doesn’t resonate with “I would never do that!” but imagining yourself in the shoes of the characters is one of the reasons I love reading so much. Julia annoyed me so many times with her financial concerns and I wanted to smack Michael and tell him to get a clue and put the phone down, but it didn’t stop me from empathizing and connecting to the story. I even got choked up several times. And the opera connections to love and life were fantastic! I might have even highlighted a few. In the end, this story honestly portrays what happens when you lose focus but even better it reminds the reader to embrace redemption, forgiveness, hope, honesty and most importantly love in every aspect of your life.
So dare I say, if you enjoy “Chick-Lit” and swoon around authors like Jennifer Weiner, Kristin Hannah and Emily Giffin (which I do) then add Sarah Pekkanen to your list. You won’t be disappointed.