Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Review-One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf.

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf.

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Mira (6 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848451326
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848451322

Firstly, kind thanks to the publishers, for granting me the permission to review this book via Netgalley, for no charge, for an honest review.  This book was read on my kindle.

Book Description.

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.

My Review.

Firstly, many thanks to the publishers for granting me access to review this book, for which it was kindly received via Netgalley. This was read on my Kindle.  I have to say that i was really interested by this book when i saw the cover and read the 'blurb', however, at the same time i was hesitant to read it as i didn't know if i could 'deal' with this content in a harrowing story.  I didn't know what was going to happen and as a parent, this is every parents' worst nightmare and for that i was debating whether to go ahead and read it.  I did read it and i am SO glad i did because i LOVED this story.  It was ABSOLUTELY UTTERLY THRILLING AND FANTASTIC.  I could not put it down, i was hooked and i would even re-read it now that i know the 'outcome'. One word=WOW!

Okay so enough of that!  The cover is quite striking in a subtle way that grabs your attention because it is cold, chilling and looks like a winter setting.  It does give you a chill and the child looks clearly unhappy.  It definitely relates to the story given the situation and the title- doesn't directly relate to the story, however, when you have read the story you realise it is giving you something to contemplate, a message.

I will not go into the plot too much as i don't want to risk any spoilers and i have included a book description.  For me, i hate reading a review that says no spoilers but actually tells you a lot about the plot and what happens with more detail than what is expected.  Everyone knows the basis of the storyline, about a gunman coming into a school in Broken Branch.  This place is actually a small town, which is a perfect setting for this story- in a way it makes it more of a catastrophic event as 'who would do this here?' the community are usually together, knitted with solidarity and thinking they know everything about everyone including their secrets,but this novel portrays that this is far from the truth.  Setting it in spring but with an unusual snowstorm for the time of year makes it unbelievably unfortunate as this messes with communication, this would have aided with the rescue of the hostage situation.

It is well written, has quick pacing, full of suspense, keeps you questioning about who the gunman is and hence has you struggling to put it down.  Gudenkauf's writing and how the story unfolded but then was brought together, reminded me of another author-Jodi Picoult, her fans are sure to adore this book just as much as they do hers.  Another aspect of Gudenkauf's writing that i really liked was the thorough character development and i enjoyed how the story was delivered.  It is told by 5 of the characters and is over an eight hour span, these characters are; a teacher in the room, a teenager, a mum who is miles away in hospital, a grandad from the town and a member of law enforcement.  Each person has they own section-there isn't overlapping bwteen these sections, some are as long as a chapter and as some are very short.  It keeps the story moving quickly, it also includes overlapping of time from different people, however this works perfectly for getting the different insights.  Even though there are 5 characters 'telling the story', it never becomes confusing-each section is clearly headed and none of the characters are similar. From these only one is told in the author's 'voice' and the others are in third person.  This is one of my favourite narrations as it tells the tale from each person's perspective which adds more depth and heart to the story.

This narration was perfect for this as you are given an insight into all aspects of the situation, including inside the school.  Through their thoughts, words and actions it gives their account of this harrowing day and shows how they all react during this terrible incident.  Every individual is different as their perspective is uniquely framed by their life-memories and experiences.  We learn about these throughout from their stories, it also gives us more information to think 'who is the gunmen?'.  It provides hints to several possibilities but in my opinion it is not obvious who the actual gunman is or his reasons for his actions. 

These life experiences/stories definitely gives heart to the story and emotions are evoked in the reader which means that connections start to form with the characters, they become human as such.  These stories deal with so many issues that it is unbelievable but it is handled so well and told so well that it isn't too much, There are issues exploring father-daughter relationships,mother-daughter relationships, siblings relationships, divorce, abandonment, affairs, life or death situations, bravery, sympathy, empathy, sacrifice, love and self-discovery.  It evoked so many emotions in me, i just could not believe how i felt towards the characters and how i put myself in that situation as a parent/grand parent and even as an individual with a loved one trapped inside.  

I am going to sum up here because i feel that this review is very long.  I cannot express anymore why i love this book, and why everyone should read it! I would re-read it as i said.  It lived with me for a long time after i put the book down, i couldn't stop thinking about it and trying to analyse it.  The title is so true in respect that, 'One Breath Away'  is all it takes to change your life forever.

Please Read it :) Without a doubt 5 out of 5!


  1. I saw this one at Wal-Mart and was thought it sounded good - glad you thought it was. I really would like to get around to reading it!

    1. I saw the paperback in our supermarket over here in UK and i was dissapointed with how the cover and paperback looked :( the book is fantastic you def need to read it :) xx

  2. Oooh this sounds so intense and awesome! I am now adding YET ANOTHER book to my TBR. :)

    1. Haha another book for the TBR, sounds like me. My TBR pile is massive!! This book is fantastic you wont be disappointed!! xx


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