One Breath Away
by Heather Gudenkauf
Synopsis: In her most emotionally charged novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenfauk 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.
From the book jacket
Review: This was my second time reading this book and it wasn't quite engaging the second time around. The first time I read it, I raved about it to everyone and told them they must read the book. I even picked it for 2 different book clubs! I think it wasn't as entertaining this second time because I knew what happened in the book. The story is somewhat of a mystery as the gunman is unknown but you can try to figure it out as you are reading. The book also is quite suspenseful as you have no idea whether the gunman will start shooting or not and what will happen to the students in Evelyn Oliver's classroom. Other than those two issues this time around, the book is still amazing as it focuses on the various relationships between characters in the story and how the relationships developed and how they have changed. I had to assure various book club members that this is NOT a school shooting book. It is a story about a hostage situation in a school but it is more about the relationships between the characters and their feelings during this stressful time.
Rating: 5 stars (based on my first reading)