Skipping a Beat

Skipping a Beat

A Novel

  • reading group guide
From the outside, Julia and Michael seem to have it all. Both products of difficult childhoods in rural West Virginia, they become high school sweethearts. Now in their thirties, they're living a rarified life in a multi-million-dollar, Washington, D.C. home. Julia is a sought-after party planner and Michael has just sold his beverage company for $70 million.
Then Michael collapses. Four minutes and eight seconds after his cardiac arrest, a portable defibrillator jumpstarts his heart. But in those lost minutes he becomes a different man. Money is meaningless to him and he wants to give it all away. Julia, who sees her life reflected in scenes from the world's great operas, has
three weeks to make a choice: Walk away from the man she once adored, but who became a stranger to her even before this pronouncement, or give in to her husband's pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?
Choose a format:
  • Atria Books | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451609837 | 
  • February 2011
List Price
AU$ 10.99

Read an Excerpt

Skipping a Beat One
WHEN MY HUSBAND, MICHAEL, died for the first time, I was walking across a freshly waxed marble floor in three-inch Stuart Weitzman heels, balancing a tray of cupcakes in my shaking hands.

Shaking because I’d overdosed on sugar—someone had to heroically step up and taste-test the cupcakes, after all—and not because I was worried about slipping and dropping the tray, even though... see more

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for These Girls includes discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. Questions and Topics for Discussion 1. Discuss the role of work in each girl’s life. To what extent do they find a sense of identity in their jobs? How do they define success or failure in their work lives, and how does either affect the way they think about themselves? 2. Each character in These Girls seems to be facing both an internal and an external struggle. Can you identify these? Are these struggles resolved by the novel’s conclusion? 3. Did you initially empathize with Abby or Joanna? Did your feelings toward Joanna change as the novel progressed? Does the fact that Abby has an affair with a married man make her less of a sympathetic character to you? Why or why not? 4. Describe the ways that each girl interacts with and connects to other people. How are their relationship styles similar, and how are they different? 5. Given the close bond that Trey and Abby share, do you think that he should have told her what happened to their brother? Why or why not? 6. How are mother-daughter relationships depicted in this novel? Was there one dynamic in particular that you identified with? 7. After Cate reminds her mother not to call her at work, she thinks to herself, “I see more

About the Author

Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally bestselling author of The Best of Us, Catching Air, These Girls, and of course The Opposite of Me, and Skipping a Beat. Her work has been published in People, The Washington Post and USA Today, among other publications. She lives with her family in Chevy Chase, Maryland. www.sarahpekkanen.com

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