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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it's still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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One Breath Away Paperback – June 26, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 295 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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.
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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 (295 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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On the last day before Spring break in a small rural community in Iowa, a gunman enters the elementary school and takes a roomful of students hostage. Because of the maze-like structure of the school in Broken Branch, it is impossible for the students and teachers throughout the school to know if he has accomplices or is acting alone, and for most of them, the actions are also unknown to them as they wait in an intense lockdown.

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?
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