Thursday, June 7, 2012

One Breath Away-Heather Gudenkauf

One Breath Away

Heather Gudenkauf

Mira, Jun 26 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9780778313656

In Broken Branch, Iowa, the elementary school children look forward to the end of the day as Spring Break begins. Eighth grade student Augie Baker calls her ailing mom Holly a thousand miles away to tell her she is locked in a closet and that a gunman has her brother P.J. and others held prisoner when shots are fired. Soon afterward school secretary Mrs. Lowell announces this is a code red lockdown. A gunman entered the school and now holds teacher Evelyn Oliver’s third grade class to include P.J. hostage.

The townsfolk panic over the children while Police Officer Meg Barrett tries to keep everyone calm though she knows she lacks the experience to work this situation. Augie’s grandfather Will Thwaite fears he will fail his daughter again if something happens to his grandchildren. Tension mounts while those outside try to identify the violent lone gun and ascertain who the real target(s) is.

One Breath Away grips the audience from the moment a frightened Augie calls her mom as shots are fired and never let’s go until the final confrontation. The rotating perspective makes the trauma even more frightening as actions and reactions seem real while the gunman remaining mysteriously unknown through much of the plot enhances the feeling of hopelessness. Filled with tension that constantly grows throughout, readers will appreciate this taut thriller as the worst nightmare of a parent and a town leaves everyone shook but bonded in the tragedy.

Harriet Klausner

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