- I’d read The Weight of Silence and was interested to see how this one held up.
Summary from GoodReads:
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 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.
It’s been a while since a good suspense novel kept me up until the wee hours of the morning (suspense in the last few years just hasn’t been my thing) – but One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf did the trick last night.
I’m always worried when I begin a book and I’m tossed from perspective to perspective, especially at the beginning when the strange names keep appearing at the top of each chapter and I have no way of knowing how many there will be. So let me just tell you so you are saved the worry I had, there are five. Five people through which this story is told, and each with their own unique twists on it all.
The summary states that this is a book about a gunman in a school – but it’s more than that as well. It’s also a story about relationships, particularly examining those between parents and their children. What’s unfortunate is that, due to the high suspense and need to keep the story moving, there’s very little resolution in that area, and the resolution that is there is a bit choppy and uneven.
However, the books main purpose is to put us, the readers, into the shoes of those living through one of the most horrifying things imaginable. Children held at gunpoint – and we’re told this from the perspective of one of the children, a teacher, a police officer, a grandfather, and a mother.
I remember reading The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf a few years ago and how deeply it affected me, and while it was good, I think One Breath Away tugged at me even more so. Maybe it was my Iowa roots being affected, or maybe it was the lateness of the night/earlyness of the morning – but one thing is undeniable: I couldn’t put this one down.
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