07 July, 2013

Book Review: One Breath Away

From Goodreads: 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.

Thoughts: My decision to read this book came after reading a review of it on Workaday Reads and I'm glad I did. I found it engrossing - reading it in one sitting - going to bed way too late in order to finish it! Just a well we are on holidays at the moment!
I must admit given the climate at the moment, I do approach books about school shootings with trepidation.  I've read Columbine, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Nineteen Minutes (I know I've read it, but I can't find my review of it??) which all dealt with the issue in different ways and I "enjoyed" to varying degrees. However what I found compelling about One Breath Away was how the focus was not on the shooter, but on the people touched by the event either because they were dealing with it from a law enforcement or educator point of view or from the point of having a loved one in the classroom. The pace of the novel was relentless, moving back and forth between characters and their story. Despite the fact it is told from the POV of several people, each of those has such a distinctive role in the drama, you don't mix them up or get confused by who is who. I seriously tried to put it down, but just kept picking it up again. It's not a taxing read, but as I said, very compelling. I didn't get the twist until just before it - which I love - nothing worse that reading a book and figuring it out within the first half. All in all, a great book which I would highly recommend.