ONE BREATH AWAY
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf follows the phenomenal success of her first two books with her most emotionally charged novel yet. ONE BREATH AWAY (Harlequin MIRA; July 2012; $15.95 U.S./$18.95 CAN.) is a gripping story of a small town caught in the midst of a deadly crisis, as experienced from the points of view of five different people.
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 crosshairs 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.
Heather Gudenkauf is the author of the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novels The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. She lives in Iowa with her family. Visit her website, HeatherGudenkauf.com.
The only sounds in the classroom are the scratch of pencils on paper and Erika’s annoying sniffles; she always has a runny nose and gets up twenty times a day to get a tissue. “I don’t care if I ever see snow or cows ever again.
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What draws you to write suspenseful women’s fiction?
I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child – yes, I was one of those kids who did a fist pump whenever the teacher assigned a writing project -but as is typical with most writers, I was and am, first and foremost an avid reader. As a child my favorite place in the world was our public library and I spent as much time as possible with my nose in a book. I loved mysteries and plowed my way through all the Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew Mystery books. One of my favorite mystery series growing up was The Boxcar Children which I recently learned was originally published in 1924. I read all the books that were available when I was a child, and again as an adult I read them to my own children with enthusiasm. Who can resist a story about a tight knit set of orphaned siblings, an abandoned boxcar, a dog, and the mystery surrounding a long lost grandfather?
As I got older, I continued to enjoy mystery and suspense novels but my interests expanded to a variety of genres, including books that explored the intricacies of the human heart: Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Elizabeth Berg’s Pull of the Moon, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and so many more. I’ve always admired the way writers could take meaway to different places and times through the written word. I knew I wanted to try my hand at writing but didn’t sit down and seriously begin until after I was married and had my children. But when I did, I remembered all the stories and books I’ve read through the years, remembered how deftly authors could arrange the words on a page to be suspenseful, heart wrenching, or heart-warming – to evoke all varieties of emotion. My hope is to do the same for my readers.
I really enjoyed One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf. This story unfolds in the midst of a big problem. As the story unfolds, you hear from different characters their perspectives and reflections of their own lives. I enjoyed the way this was written. It really involves you in the story and makes each character a little more relatable. This is a must read for this summer.
*Disclaimer: I received this product for review. All opinions are my own.*