Wow! That’s all I can say about this third novel by Heather Gudenkauf called One Breath Away! The book is based around events that have happened a lot in the past, I’m sure we can all relate to it from hearing about these things in the news. The book was amazing, and written super well. I read it all in one day, stayed up late to finish it because I could not put it down! I love how it’s narrated by the 5 main characters. You get to see how a mother, a child, a grandfather, a police officer, a teacher, and a mother all react to having a gunman in the school. All the characters are loveable and endearing. I wish there was more at the end about the mother, child and grandfather. I felt like I didn’t come out with closure for them. But overall it’s a book that you’ve probably never read before and it was just astounding.
Synopsis of One Breath Away:
On a bitter March day, as a sudden snowstorm envelops the small town of Broken Branch, Iowa, an unknown man with a gun enters the town’s only school and takes a classroom of children hostage. As awareness of the situation spreads, the panicked community is ready to do anything to protect their children, but can only watch and wait.
As a teacher with a long career behind her, Evelyn Oliver is ready to enjoy retirement with her loving husband. But now, faced with a crazy man armed with a gun, terrorizing her classroom, she’d rather die than fail to protect any of her students. But why is he doing this? Evelyn’s been scouring her mind but doesn’t recognize the intruder. Maybe one of the students is the key?
Holly Thwaite left Broken Branch and her family behind without a word eighteen years ago, vowing never to return. But after a debilitating accident leaves her recovering in a hospital in Arizona, she’s forced to send her children to her hometown to be looked after by their grandfather, the man she never wanted them to meet. Will Thwaite never understood why his estranged daughter, Holly, ran away all those years ago. But now that her children are in his care, he refuses to fail his daughter again. One way or another, Will is going to get his grandkids, P.J. and Augie, out of that school safely even if he has to go in and get them himself. What Will doesn’t know is that thirteen-year-old Augie is just as determined to rescue her little brother from the killer and help her classmates, even if it means putting herself in the cross-hairs of the gunman.
Police officer Meg Barrett wants to know who the intruder is and why he’s doing this. Whoever it is, there’s no excuse for this. Meg should know. She’s had plenty of hardships herself. But with innocent lives at stake, Meg is prepared to risk her own life to save these hostages, although it means disobeying orders and taking on the gunman face-to-face.
As the standoff progresses and the snowstorm rages outside, anxiety and frustration start to build to dangerous levels. But everyone knows how precarious the situation is. One wrong move, even a breath, could have the most devastating of consequences.
Here is my excerpt in the blog tour:
But the problem is that while the carefully prescribed and doled-out narcotics by the nurses wonderfully dull the edges of this nightmare, I know that soon enough this woozy, pleasant feeling will fall away and all that I will be left with is pain and the knowledge that Augie and P.J. are thousands of miles away from me.
To easily find all the excerpts for the One Breath Away Blog tour go to the BookTrib website.
Q&A with Heather Gudenkauf:
- Describe One Breath Away in 15 words or less. A small town, a school, a snowstorm, a man with a gun, a big problem.
- As a teacher, did you draw from personal experience when developing the character of Mrs. Oliver? I love Mrs. Oliver! The third grade teacher in One Breath Away, personifies many of the characteristics I have come to admire in my fellow educators: dedication, high expectations, an authentic desire to see the children they work with become better students and better people. I remember a teacher from my child ~ was she ever tough! She expected us to try our best, to learn, but would always play four-square with us at recess. I had a lot of respect for teachers who are able I love Mrs. Oliver’s feistiness and willingness to protect her students – the teachers I know would do the exact same thing.
- Can you describe your writing routine? Since I’m the mother of three and also work outside the home I write wherever and whenever I can. I do like to get up early in the morning and write before the rest of the house is awake, this way I can spend some solid, uninterrupted time on a the story. Oftentimes, a headline from the newspaper or a news story from the radio really connects with me and a few days later a novel begins to take shape. I always buy myself a beautiful journal and spend the first month or so writing the story in long-hand. I’ve found that in writing this way I’m able to write nearly anywhere and minimize distractions. Later I transfer what I’ve written to a computer and continue to add to the story. I cannot write if the house is completely quiet ~ I have to have music or the television going in the background.
- What are you currently reading? I am not monogamous when it comes to what I’m reading. I love all genres: fiction, memoirs, poetry, historical. When I discover a new author I tend to go back and read everything he or she has written and can’t wait to get my hands on their newest works. I do a happy dance whenever a new Sandra Dallas or Alexander McCall Smith book comes out. Right now I’m reading two novels, Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner and The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler and the memoir Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected by Kelle Hampton.
- Are you influenced by other writers? If so, who? I have so many favorite authors. Some of my favorites are Elizabeth Berg, Anita Shreve, Ann Patchett, Louise Erdrich, T.C. Boyle, and Barbara Kingsolver.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book in order to review it and share my honest opinions. No other compensation was provided.