One Breath Away
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Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Harlequin Mira (June 26, 2012)
Genre: Women's Fiction, Suspense, 384 pages
In her most emotionally charged novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Heather 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.
In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.
Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town's children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again. Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.
As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.
Stuck in her classroom with fear embedded in her students eyes, Evelyn Oliver finds herself face to face with a man she doesn't recognize holding her and her students hostage with a gun in his hand. Evelyn doesn't know what to do, but one thing she's sure about is not letting this man hurt any of her students. Augie Baker is thirteen years old and in her class when her school goes on lock down, she doesn't know what going on or who's in the building, but she knows she has to go find her little brother P.J., which is exactly where the shooter is. Officer Meg Barrett can't believe that this is happening, a shooting in a small town, in Broken Branch, Iowa and takes it upon herself to find out who this person is and stop them before anyone gets hurt.
Wow. It took me an extremely long time to finish this book. I'm not saying it wasn't good, because damn, IT. WAS. GOOD. Beyond good. I just found myself putting this book down every time I got goosebumps or when tears decided to leak out my eyeballs! Which was pretty much every 20-30 pages. Ms. Gudenkauf really knows how to deliver. When she says queue goosebumps you damned well get goosebumps! This book jumps from person to person, now, usually I get a little weary reading books with different POV's but this one was the complete opposite. You're getting to know all of the characters and getting a feel for the situation through the eyes of not only the victims, but the families and the police officers as well. There was never a dull moment in this book, it kept me on edge and guessing who the hell this demented man with a gun is. Ms. Gudenkauf definitely threw some curve balls, the minute I thought I had the shooter pinned down, you get a new set of information that has you second guessing yourself.
What I liked about this book, gosh, EVERYTHING! From the setting, to the characters, to Ms. Gudenkauf's writing. You can't help but feel what all the characters are feeling. Being in the middle of a snow storm during this tragic event, you can practically feel the cold seeping into your skin and feel the sadness and the longing that the parents are feeling. Which totally adds to the book overall. It takes a lot for me to cry and this book and the fact that after the first POV I had to put the book down, definitely says something. There wasn't anything I disliked about this book Nothing at all, everything tied together perfectly.
I definitely recommend this book. This is my first women's fiction book. I'm not new to suspense, but this definitely tops all the suspense books I've read. If you're a fan of suspense then pick this book up, if you love women's fiction, hell, any fiction book, then this is too your book! Fair warning, buy a box of tissues.