Title: One Breath Away
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Officer Meg Barrett has enough problems. She’s been having trouble with her husband, and they recently separated. Her beloved daughter is missing school today to spend time with her father. So when Meg receives a summons the school, she’s confused, until she hears that there is a gunman inside, holding innocent children hostage. But who is this gunman, and what does he want? As Meg tries to get some answers, she must also make sure that the situation doesn’t become a tragedy.
One Breath Away is a timely book that deals with a situation that is all too familiar in today’s society: a gunman inside a school building. But this particular gunman presents an element of mystery. Who is he? He’s a man, not a boy, so he isn’t a student. Could he be a former student with a grudge? A disgruntled parent? Gudenkauf keeps the reader in suspense as she slowly unfolds the plot, expertly weaving an intricate and layered tale.
The novel is told from multiple points of view: Meg’s, the grandfather of two girls inside the school, one of those girls, a teacher, and more. This may make One Breath Away sound confusing, but it isn’t at all. These accounts each build on one another, making a seamless and tightly woven story. Gudankauf does an excellent job differentiating these narrators from one another; readers can feel the change in voice from the young girl to the older woman, making for an engaging reading experience.
One thing Heather Gudenkauf does very well is writing suspense, and One Breath Away is no exception. The reader knows the book is leading to an explosive conclusion from the very first page; indeed, the title is an apt one, as it seems like everything can change in one breath, one small second. Gudenkauf also writes small town dynamics very well. As the townspeople try to ascertain who it is inside the school, their prejudices and true feelings about one another come to light. The author took great care with even the most minor characters, and that shines through in the novel.
One Breath Away is a book that readers will want to read in one sitting, to plow through from beginning to end. It’s difficult to put down, as readers will hope for some sort of peaceful ending to this horrifying turn of events. Because of the ripped-from-the-headlines nature of the story, this would make a great book club pick, as there is much to discuss within its pages. Heather Gudenkauf has written another winner with this book, and it’s sure to satisfy fans and newcomers alike.
Other books by Heather Gudenkauf: