One Breath Away (Paperback)
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Short Description for One Breath Away In her most emotionally charged novel to date, "New York Times"-bestselling author Gudenkauf explores the unspoken events that shape a community, the ties between parents and their children and how the fragile normalcy of our everyday life is so easily shattered.
- Published: 26 June 2012
- Format: Paperback 370 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780778313656 ISBN 10: 0778313654
- Sales rank: 182,055
Reviews for One Breath Away
Keeping the tension high with short chapters, shifts in perspective and a situation that every parent dreads in the wake of Columbine and similar school tragedies, Gudenkauf has written a pacy suspense thriller that kept me turning the pages into the early hours of the morning.
In small town Iowa, a gunman holds a school hostage. Outside a blizzard rages while the police scramble to identify the man and prevent a massacre. Thousands of miles away a mother receives a phone call, "He has a gun."
The present tense narrative unfolds through the first person viewpoints of Augie, a thirteen year old girl, whose brother, PJ is a hostage in the third grade classroom, Holly, Augie and PJ's mother who is thousands of miles away in hospital recovering from severe burns after a house fire, and Officer Meg Barrett who is doing everything she can to ensure the safety of the school children. A third person narrative reveals the thoughts and actions of Will Thwaite, the grandfather of Augie and PJ who waits helplessly to learn the fate of his grandchildren, and Mrs Oliver, the third grade teacher who is confined with her class of 8 year olds and the gunman, terrified but determined to protect her students at any cost. The multiple perspectives reveals what is happening within and outside the school and allows the author to provide the background of the characters caught up in the nightmare, so that their motivations make sense in the midst of the crisis.
Gudenkauf uses subtle misdirection to conceal the identity of the gunman, with several suspects and possible motives in the frame creating a strong element of mystery. The motive of the hostage taker is also hidden until the last few pages which plays into the tension. It is suspense that drives the novel, what is unknown about the situation and what is possible. There are flashes of violence but really it is simple fear for the characters that sustains the tension.
One Breath Away is a taut, compelling novel of suspense that had me hooked from the first page. by Shelley Cusbert