THINGS YOU WON’T SAY by Sarah Pekkanen

Publisher: Washington Square Press
Released: May 26, 2015
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★

In this timely and provocative novel, internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen takes us inside a family in crisis and a marriage on the brink after a tragic shooting.

How far would you go to save your family?

Every morning, as her husband Mike straps on his SIG Sauer and pulls on his heavy Magnum boots, Jamie Anderson tenses up. Then comes the call she has always dreaded: There’s been a shooting at police headquarters. Mike isn’t hurt, but his long-time partner is grievously injured. As weeks pass and her husband’s insomnia and disconnectedness mount, Jamie realizes he is an invisible casualty of the attack. Then the phone rings again. Another shooting but this time Mike has pulled the trigger.

But the shooting does more than just alter Jamie’s world. It’s about to change everything for two other women. Christie Simmons, Mike’s flamboyant ex, sees the tragedy as an opportunity for a second chance with Mike. And Jamie’s younger sister, Lou, must face her own losses to help the big sister who raised her. As the press descends and public cries of police brutality swell, Jamie tries desperately to hold together her family, no matter what it takes.

In her characteristic exploration of true-to-life relationships, Sarah Pekkanen has written a complex, compelling, and openhearted novel her best yet.

I chose this book to read because I enjoyed Pekkanen’s previous novel, SKIPPING A BEAT. I didn’t like THINGS YOU WON’T SAY as much, but it was a worthwhile read nonetheless. The author tackles the subject of police brutality and racial tension, and her novel at least covers part of the controversial situation in a sensitive way.

The novel starts off strong with Mike’s tragedies at work and the burden it puts on Jamie and their children. It seemed to lose focus though, with the introduction of Christie (Mike’s ex) and Lou (Jamie’s sister). Their side stories didn’t do anything to advance the plot, and Lou’s, unfortunately, was boring.

I liked how the book wraps up, though it was probably too neat and tidy to be realistic, especially with recent real life events similar to this one. What I liked most was watching how Jamie and Mike’s relationship changed over the course of the terrible ordeal, and what they learned from their mistakes.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher thorough NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Audiobook Review: SKIPPING A BEAT by Sarah Pekkanen

Format: Audio; 9 hrs, 36 mins
Narrator: Madeleine Maby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Released: December 17, 2013
Source: Review copy from the publisher

What would you do if your husband suddenly wanted to rewrite all of the rules of your relationship? This is the question at the heart of Skipping a Beat, Pekkanen’s thought-provoking second book.

From the outside, Julia and Michael seem to have it all. Both products of difficult childhoods in rural West Virginia – where they were simply Julie and Mike – they become high school sweethearts and fall in love. Shortly after graduation, they flee their small town to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar, Washington D.C. home. Julia is a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has just sold his wildly successful flavored water company for $70 million.

But one day, Michael collapses in his office. Four minutes and eight seconds after his cardiac arrest, a portable defibrillator jump-starts 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 bits of her life reflected in scenes from the world’s great operas, is now facing with a choice she never anticipated. Should she should walk away from the man she once adored – but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before this pronouncement – or give in to her husband’s pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?

As wry and engaging as her debut, but with quiet depth and newfound maturity, Skipping a Beat is an unforgettable portrait of a marriage whose glamorous surface belies the complications and betrayals beneath.


SKIPPING A BEAT was…wow. The blurb sounded intriguing, but I didn’t think this book would be the emotional roller coaster ride it was. From the first line, I was engrossed in this tale of betrayal, marriage, loss, and what matters most in life.

Julia and Michael were high school sweethearts from meager beginnings. As newlyweds, they were very much in love, but over time they drifted apart. Michael’s successful multi-million dollar company became his love, and Julia was pushed aside. She was hurt by Michael’s neglect, but living in the lap of luxury made it easier to take. Then one day everything changes. Michael goes into cardiac arrest and his heart stops for four minutes. Once resuscitated, he’s a completely differently person. He sees money as the root of all their problems, and he intends to win back Julia’s love if at all possible.

The story is told from Julia’s point of view, and at first I wasn’t sympathetic towards her at all. She seemed uncaring and greedy, more concerned about losing her shopping privileges in expensive boutiques than losing her husband Michael. As the story progressed, my feelings changed and I saw her in a different way. The story alternates between bits and pieces of the past and present day. The glimpses into Julia’s childhood and earlier relationship with Michael put things in a new prospective. Julia had her flaws, but she was also real and honest.

Like I mentioned before, SKIPPING A BEAT was an emotional read for me. The ending left me shaken, but with a feeling of hope too. A bittersweet story with flawed, complex characters makes this a memorable read.

Madeleine Maby gave a wonderful performance as narrator of the audiobook. She was a great choice for telling this story, and she captured the characters’ emotions beautifully.

Rating: 5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

On a Side Note: If you have a moment, please check out my interview today over at, 10 Questions with Historical Fiction Blogger Diana Leigh!