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One Breath Away Paperback – June 26, 2012
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"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."
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.Read more ›
The story opens with Holly Baker, a young woman who is lying in a hospital bed in Arizona after suffering serious injuries in a fire. Recovering from burns, grafts, and the anxiety of separation from her two children, Augie and P. J., Holly's angst intensifies when she receives a call from her daughter Augie. She says she is in a closet in the school at Broken Branch--where she is staying with Holly's parents--and a man is shooting.
From there, readers are shown the intensity of the situation in alternating points of view as the narrators tell the taut story as it unfolds. From Holly, helpless in Arizona, to Meg, a police officer with her own issues, we come to know the fear, the helplessness, and the mystery of each of them, and wonder, as they do, why, in this previously safe community, someone would do this horrendous thing. Augie's voice tells the story of her family, as well as her fears in this situation, just as we learn more about the teacher, Mrs. Oliver, in whose classroom the gunman waits, his agenda and his story totally unknown.
Breathtaking, the short intense chapters lead the reader to the startling conclusion, asking these questions and more: Who is this man and why has he targeted this school? Is he a disgruntled former student? Is he a parent in a bitter custody battle over a child?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the different points of view of the children, police, teachers, and relatives. The writing as usual with this author was taunt and carried the story forward. Read morePublished 5 days ago by robertbecker
I couldn't finish this. I should have stopped before page 70. The main thrust of the story was constantly intercepted by boring details about the lives of 18 (it seemed like! Read morePublished 7 days ago by eastcoast
Such a well written book. Loved the intensity. With each different perspective, it gave the book such a well roundedness and answered any unanswered questions.Published 10 days ago by Kayla Durst
This story flows at a constant steady pace. It's told from several points of view. This was confusing for awhile and I felt that in some ways this took away from the story. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Charlie'sGirl02
Great book! Couldn't put it down! Kept my attention the whole time! It is a must read book! Great authorPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Amazing book! I could not put it down. I read it in one sitting! Highly Recommend!Published 4 months ago by Kim