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?
About the Author
Sarah Pekkanen is the author of The Opposite of Me and Skipping a Beat. Her work has been published in People, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New Republic, The Baltimore Sun, Reader’s Digest, and Washingtonian, among others. She writes a monthly Erma Bombeck type column for Bethesda Magazine, and has been an on-air contributor to NPR and E! Entertainment’s “Gossip Show.” She is the winner of a Dateline award and the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship. Sarah lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and three young sons.
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Washington Square Press; Original edition (February 22, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451609825
- ISBN-13: 978-1451609820
ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT
This is the most emotional book I have read in a long time. I actually had to take breaks while reading this since I was so drawn into the story and how real the whole thing seemed. Within pages, I felt like I had known Julia my whole life. I could feel her fear and how much she loved Michael, yet realize they had grown apart. Like most marriages they had forgotten those moments that create the relationship. The ending was exactly how it had to be, although I never saw it coming. I ended up in tears several times, but any author who can create that kind of connection is something special. This is in my top ten for the year!
I really felt the author made Julia more accessible by taking great pains to detail her relationship with money and her father and how this history makes her responses to Michael quitting his job very realistic. She sees the money as the security she never had as a child and when Michael decides to give everything away without discussing it with her, that trust is broken.
Julia tries to understand Michael and what happened between them and how they have grown apart. She reflects and makes correlations through the music and stories of opera that she has found as an escape. In a way, the story is an opera. Also, Julia meets someone who puts everything in perspective in the body of a boy. She introduces Noah to Michael and that child becomes the catalyst that rebuilds their relationship.
This is probably one of the hardest reviews I have ever written. The story felt like it was ripped from my own life since my husband decided to quit his job on New Years Eve 1999, without much warning. They always say truth is stranger than fiction, but it is pretty hard to imagine someone else capturing my exact thoughts and feelings, but that is exactly what Sarah Pekkanen did. I received this book at no charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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