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4.3 out of 5 stars
301
4.3 out of 5 stars
One Breath Away
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 6 July 2012
This contemporary novel follows five people all linked by the chilling events of one day in the small town of Broken Branch, Iowa, when a gunman enters an elementary school. Five narrators who are all linked by the events tell us about the day through their eyes, each giving a different perspective, and we find out a little about each of their backgrounds too, which allows us to learn about them, and relate this to how they are behaving now, on this day. As the snow falls, the rest of the town can only sit and wait.

Police officer Meg Barrett, farmer Will Thwaite, his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Augie Baker, and Evelyn Oliver, the teacher trapped in her classroom with her pupils and the gunman, recount what is happening around them, and then the final narrator is Holly, who is mother to Augie and her younger brother P. J., and who is in hospital across the country recovering from the effects of a terrible accidental fire.

This is an emotional, captivating story of everyday lives and relationships interrupted by one terrifying moment. The tension builds as the story progresses. The author conveys the worries of those waiting to hear any news from the school. I found myself thinking about who the gunman could be, and what his motivation was. There is suspicion and speculation as to his identity by those closely involved. Through what we slowly learn about these characters' pasts, the author introduces several possible candidates who could be the gunman. Anxious parents and friends wait, desperate for news, but little is forthcoming. For policewoman Meg, this is frustrating: 'I feel at loose ends; the little information I have is fragmented and disjointed, doesn't make sense.' The reader is kept on edge for most of the novel as to how the events will conclude.

The novel is fast-paced, the narrative voice shifts regularly between the five characters, and the sections are all fairly short, until at one point we have as little as a paragraph or two from one character, then we skip straight to another. This occurs as the story is at its most uncertain moment, and adds to the tension for the reader.

The main characters are all convincing and well-drawn, each with their own individual concerns already playing on their minds, these anxieties then being compounded by the shocking events of this day. It's fascinating to see how each character reacts in this awful situation. I kept wondering what would happen next, and I was thinking about the story even when I'd put the book down.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 June 2014
The pace and tension from the opening pages of this book are relentless. The multiple viewpoint narrative keeps the pace and plotting tight and take the reader right into the heart of each character and as the story and secrets unfold.

It's nearly Spring Break time, the last day of school, when a Code Red Lockdown message comes over the tannoy and teachers are told to go to the safe place. A lone gunman has entered the school. Who is he and why is he there?

There's a very strong sense of place and time. It's a small town, with a local police force prepared in theory for the scenario, but faced with the challenge of dealing with it in practice. There are procedures to follow. But backup can't get through because the weather has closed in. There's an almost palpable sense of isolation and introspection as the backstory around each if the central characters is revealed. Establishing the identity of the gunman is critical; the possibilities stack up as the narrative sweeps from one person to another.

Simple writing, but spot on. As a British reader, I was transported to a different world. Very plausible and totally gripping. I loved it.
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Not as good as I thought it would be, nearly gave up on it at about 30% but plodded on thinking it would get more of a page turner.

Sadly it didn't, found there was too much story regarding the background of the main people, did seem to pep up a bit towards the end but I wouldn't particularly recommend this and I don't think I would read any more from this author.

Only good thing about it, when I downloaded it, it was on a free offer as I would have felt cheated if I had paid for it.
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on 16 June 2013
Wow, this book has really lived up to and beyond my expectations of Heather Gudenkauf's second novel. I came across her first, The Weight of Silence, by accident and loved it, this one has been equally brilliant. They are structured similarly to Jodi Picoult's work in that the narrative is by different characters in the story, chapter by chapter, but unlike Jodi's books which centre on moral issues (largely) Heather writes more on major events and ripple effects. She writes very engagingly and both books have been major page turners. I eagerly await MORE from this fantastic author :) A happy, happy find indeed.
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on 22 June 2017
Loved how this was told from different people's perspective and each chapter left me wanting more.would of liked a few more chapters at the end felt as though it ended a bit abruptly
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on 18 September 2017
My first novel by this wonderful Author. Recommended to me by Amazon as I'm an avid Diane Chamberlain fan.

Very similar styles and this book had me hooked from beginning to end (which lasted all of 2 days- I couldn't put it down!)

Great characterisation, plot and emotion with many interlinking threads to keep you guessing. Fantastic. I ordered another by Heather as soon as I finished the last paragraph
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on 12 May 2013
What a good book I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Before I had even finished this book I brought the next one (which I'll be starting tonight).
I did guess the ending but it did keep me guessing and I loved the characters and because I am a mum with a teenage daughter it struck a chord that sent shivers down my spine.
I would recommend this book because it's well written and enjoyable. I'm glad I took a chance a tried a different author.
Karrie
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on 3 February 2017
Excellent read. Didn't want it to end but did to find out what happened. Will certainly be reading more by this author. Highly recommended
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on 1 February 2015
An excellent book, and great value as it was free on Amazon for my Kindle. Never read this author before but I was grabbed at the start and read it in a few days. I love books like this one that I can't wait to read, but don't want to finish! Recommended!
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on 7 April 2017
A readable novel about a school shooting from different perspectives.
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