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One Breath Away Paperback – June 26, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Scintillating...The author slowly and expertly reveals the truth in a tale so chillingly real, it could have come from the latest headlines."

-Publishers Weekly starred review on These Things Hidden

"There's a particular darkness to her heartland, rife as it is with predators and the walking wounded, and her unsentimental take on the milieu manages to find some hope without being maudlin."

-Publisher Weekly on The Weight of Silence

"Heather Gudenkauf skillfully weaves an explosive tale of suspense and...the healing power of love."

-#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs on The Weight of Silence

"Heather Gudenkauf is one of those rare writers who can tell a tale with the skill of a poet while simultaneously cranking up the suspense until it's unbearable."

-New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen

"Brilliantly constructed, this will have you gripped until the last page."

-Closer on The Weight of Silence

"Fans of Jodi Picoult will devour this great thriller."

-Red Magazine on The Weight of Silence

"The Weight of Silence is a cleverly crafted exercise in sustaining tension. Her technique is faultless, sparse and simple and is a master class in how to construct a thriller...A memorable read...a brave first novel."

-Sunday Express

About the Author

Heather Gudenkauf is an Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Heather lives in Iowa with her husband and children. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and running.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA; Original edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780778313656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778313656
  • ASIN: 0778313654
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (279 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden and One Breath Away. She lives in Iowa with her family.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
At first sight the scenario of a lone gunman in a school holding hostages did not seem the most appealing of subjects for a plot, at least from my personal perspective. However, this book is so well written and so well plotted that it grabs the attention from the word go, and holds it throughout.

The format is that the chapters are short and each is written from the perspective of one of four people - Holly who is in hospital suffering from severe burns, Augie her daughter, Will her father, who is taking care of Augie and her brother PJ whilst their mother recovers, and Meg who is a police officer in Broken Branch and whose daughter, like Augie and PJ, attends the school.

The action is quite tense and definitely becomes a page turner as the climax to the siege approaches. This is also as much a book about interpersonal relationships, particularly the rather fraught relationship between Will and his daughter and granddaughter and a lot of background is covered so that we come to realise how this situation has come about. The reader sees the situation from everyone's perspective and has a certain sympathy with each viewpoint which is quite a feat by the author.

This book works on a number of different levels. There is the suspense of the main story and the ever present possibility of a violent outcome, and uncertainty as to the identity and motivation of the gunman. The latter is almost a sub plot as various inhabitants of Broken Branch feel that the perpetrator may be connected with them. Additionally it is easy to identify with the hopes and fears of the main participants and the characters all seem to be multi dimensional in contrast with some books I have read recently where it is not possible to identify with any of the players. Highly recommended!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Naugle on October 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
Intense. That basically sums it up! One Breath Away is told from 5 different perspectives during a hostage situation at a small town school. The identity of the intruder is unknown until the very end as everyone scrambles to understand what is happening. I love that the author tells the story through several perspectives: a teacher trapped in the classroom with the gunman, a teenager trying to make take care of her younger brother, a grandfather trying to make sure his grandchildren are all right, a cop who may have a connection to the gunman, and a mother who is recovering from a horrible accident hundreds of miles away. But this book doesn't just deal with a gunman in a school. It also reflects upon small town life and the relationships we make and what connects us together. One Breath Away feels eerily familiar and, at times, almost TOO realistic, especially after the events of Columbine,Virginia Tech and too many other similar situations. I was nervous and anxious to make sure everyone was ok as the events unfolded. This book will keep you up at night and stay with you for awhile.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Naida M. VINE VOICE on October 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
One Breath Away is an emotional novel about how a community deals with a horrific act.

The story takes place on a snowy day in a small town in Iowa on the last school day before Spring break. A gunman has entered the school and as word gets out, horrified parents are pooled outside along with police and reporters. Most of the town's children up through age eighteen are held captive inside, since the school condenses grades k-12. To make matters worse, a blizzard is in full effect and the extra police help needed may not even make it in time.

At first, due to the subject matter, I didn't know how I would fare reading this book.
I wondered "why am I doing this to myself?" as I read. This book is emotional to say the least.

Author Heather Gudenkauf really drew me in and I found myself unable to put this book down for the first hundred pages or so. The book is told from a few different points of view. Police officer and mother Meg, grandfather Will, third grade teacher Mrs Oliver and eight grade student Augie, are some of the characters that we see the story through.

The characters are well developed and as they narrate, we get flashbacks and their previous memories. I have to mention, I had a hard time telling the two moms Holly and Meg apart. Since the book switches back and forth from different narrators, I had to keep checking to see which mom was which. One mother is a cop, the other is lying in a hospital bed, but I still found myself mixing them up.

Eight grader Augie gives up the chance at freedom as some of the children are able to sneak out of the school, but because her little brother P.J. is still somewhere inside, she refuses to leave him. Moments like these invested me in the story and its characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By 1midnightwish on September 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Book: One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf
Pages: 370
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library

Short Synopsis: The day starts out as any normal day in a small town. It isn't until a mysterious gunman shows up at the local school, and things start to go crazy when the school goes into a lockdown mode.

My Thoughts: A very haunting tale of how far one man will go to get the revenge he thinks he deserves.

A bit different than my normal reads, I was intrigued by the plot, as this is a situation that has been creeping up more recently in real life, and could happen anywhere at any time. Told in multiple points of views, One Breath Away tells a story of how a gunman infiltrates a local school in a small town, and the reactions to angry, worried parents, and the policemen involved.
The majority of the novel centers around a family, a mother named Holly who was recently involved in a fire accident, her two kids, Augie and PJ, a teacher, the kids' grandfather, and a fellow officer named Meg. I wasn't much of a fan of the multiple point of views and understood why it was done that way, but most times I kept wanting to find out what happened more in one part of a character's lives, than others.
This is a fast paced, emotional read, as the reader experiences strings of what ifs, and we take a look at how a small town handles a daunting crisis. As the children realize that a gunman is in the school, there are many guesses as to whose father he could be, as the gunman searches for a specific student. It was a bit frustrating to read most of the novel, still clueless as to who the actual gunman was, and what his purpose of being at the school was too.
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