One breath away

Heather Gudenkauf

Book - 2012

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FICTION/Gudenkau Heather
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Subjects
Published
Don Mills, Ont. : Harlequin 2012.
Language
English
Physical Description
370 p. ; 21 cm
ISBN
9780778313656
0778313654
Main Author
Heather Gudenkauf (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Post-Columbine, we've sadly become accustomed to the familiar story surrounding school shootings: the disaffected gunman, the heroic teacher/student/law enforcement agent, the frightened parents, the intrusive media. Most of us experience these tragedies from a safely removed distance. Gudenkauf (These Things Hidden, 2011) breaks down that barrier and puts the reader smack in the center of events as they unfold, with an unknown gunman holding hostage an elementary school and, by extension, the entire small town of Broken Branch. Using multiple narrators to excellent effect, Gudenkauf interweaves various perspectives, including those of Augie, a troubled 13-year-old transfer student, and Mrs. Oliver, a teacher nearing retirement, bent on protecting her children, to demonstrate the way in which the big picture emerges only in hindsight. At the heart of the storm, it's all chaos, misinformation, and false leads. The characters, while representing archetypes, spring from the page as fully formed individuals with complex back stories. The reader becomes heavily invested in their survival, which, more than the mystery of the gunman and his motive, propels this suspenseful narrative compellingly forward. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

As Edgar-finalist Gudenkauf's chilling third suspense novel opens, elementary school children and their teachers in Broken Branch, Iowa, are anxiously awaiting the dismissal that will herald the beginning of their spring vacation. Suddenly, the voice of the school secretary comes over the intercom: "Teachers, this is a Code Red Lockdown. Go to your safe place." A gunman has entered the school. The police rush to the scene, followed by anxious parents, while teachers deal with distraught children. Veteran teacher Evelyn Oliver must contend with the gunman himself, who holds her third graders hostage, doing all she can to protect her students. Eighth-grader Augie Thwaite bravely does her bit in an effort to rescue her little brother, P.J., a captive in Mrs. Oliver's classroom. Gudenkauf (These Hidden Things) uses multiple viewpoints to keep the tension high and the reader glued to the pages. Agent: Marianne Merola, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom, holding the children hostage, Officer Meg Barrett watches and waits for his demands, while Evelyn Oliver, trapped in her classroom, wonders how to save her students, and 13-year-old Augie Baker risks her own safety to save her little brother. Original. 164,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

When an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom, holding the children hostage, Officer Meg Barrett watches and waits for his demands, while Evelyn Oliver, trapped in her classroom, wonders how to save her students.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

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 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.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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 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.