Friday, July 13, 2012

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf ~ Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Genre: Suspense
Publication Date: 26th June 2012
Pages: 400
Book Source: BookTrib Blog Tour

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 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.

My Thoughts:
A man with a gun, a school in lockdown - every parents nightmare. One Breath Away is a riveting read, the tension's set at a simmer, heightened by short chapters, a sense of urgency and sparseness to Gudenkauf's writing and trademark multiple viewpoints -

Augie & PJ's mother, Holly who is recovering from severe burns, 13 year old Augie, Mrs Oliver, the 3rd grade teacher in the classroom with the gunman, Officer Meg Barrett and Will, Augie & PJ's grandfather. 

But as Will looked around, it was easy to identify those who had loved ones in the school and those were merely spectators in someone else's nightmare.

My knees feel weak at the thought and for the first time all day I'm really scared. The kind of scared that begins as a knot in your chest and gets bigger and bigger until that's all there is and there is no room left for air.

Surprisingly this isn't an action-packed read, more quietly intense, an intimate look at the effect the hostage situation has on each of the narrators and in spite of some pretty obvious red herrings alluding to the identity of the gunman, Ms Gudenkauf kept me guessing right up til the end ... I usually pick the baddie so being clueless made a nice change.  

These Things Hidden remains my favourite Heather Gudenkauf novel but One Breath Away is still guaranteed to have you holding your breath. 

Visit Heather Gudenkauf's website to find out more.

See my review of These Things Hidden & The Weight Of Silence

Mr. Ellery said we could even write the same word over and over for the entire time and Noah asked, “What if it’s a bad word?”
“Knock yourself out,” Mr. Ellery said, and everyone laughed. 

In all three of your books, you tell the story through the perspectives of several characters. Why do you choose to write this way?
In the last few years I’ve been a silent, seven-year-old girl lost in the woods, a protective older brother, a deputy sheriff, a middle-aged male college professor, an adoptive mother, a teenage felon, a grandfather, a thirteen year old girl, and a sixty-five-year old third grade teacher. How many people get to say that? While I’ve never been lost in the woods (but did get hopelessly lost driving through Chicago once), have never been an adoptive mother, never was a teenage felon (much to the relief of my parents), nor have I been in a hostage situation, I am somehow compelled to explore these personas and the families of these characters. In choosing to write in this way, I also have had the chance to meet some fascinating people. I’ve interviewed a retired Sheriff’s deputy and police chief who taught me about police procedure, a criminal defense lawyer who taught me the ins and outs of state law and the criminal justice system, and two cattle farmers who taught me about reverence and respect for the earth and its animals. These conversations have helped me delve more deeply into the characters I write about. I have always loved reading books written in multiple perspectives and knew when I began writing my first novel, The Weight of Silence it was the only way it could be written. I try to create characters that are very different from one another with unique voices, hopes and dreams. It's a lot of fun stepping into a different character's viewpoint each day, but at the end of the day, it’s a comfort knowing I can step right back into my blissfully, uneventful life!

1 paperback copy of ONE BREATH AWAY
US/Canada ONLY

+2 tweet giveaway and leave a link
Giveaway ends 27th July and the winner will be announced on my blog. Good luck everyone!


  1. This sounds a very good book. Don't count me in for the giveaway as I am overseas!

    1. Thanks for commenting Mystica, I've loved all of Heather Gudenkauf's novels, definitely one of my go-to authors!

  2. Wow!!! This sounds really good! A book that I know I would love! Thanks for the chance!!

    1. You can't go wrong with any of Heather's novels Julie. Good luck with the giveaway :)

  3. It's been a while since I've read a good suspense/thriller. This novel sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. You're welcome Linda, good luck :)

  4. This was a page turner for me! I liked the multiple POVs. My review goes up tomorrow. I loved These Things Hidden too. Don't enter me in the drawing.

    1. Have you read Heather's other novels Nise?

  5. I can't wait to read this one, my favourite is Weight of Silence so far. I love your question about the style of telling the story as that is why she is a favourite, the mutiple voices. Her response was great, interesting indeed.

  6. Sounds like my kind of read!

  7. I will be reading this one soon and now after reading your thoughts I know I'm sure to enjoy it. I have her other book but like a broken record I haven't read it yet!!

  8. Just finished this book :) I loved it and Im participating on the same tour .
    New Follower and also from Across the Ditch in NZ.

  9. I have a copy so don't include me in the giveaway but I wanted to say I am glad you enjoyed it as much as I did!

  10. I have been reading very good reviews about the book. I'm curious that I want to read it. This would be my first book by Heather Gudenkauf.

  11. This sounds like a novel that would be very hard to put down.

  12. I read The Weight of Silence. It was great, and I know this one will be, too!


    lissette_125 AT hotmail DOT com

  13. Not action packed, but still intense. Sounds like a very riveting book. Definitely one I want to read.

    +2 for tweeting:

  14. Wow I cant remember the last time I read a good suspenseful mystery type book. Ok another book to go onto Mt TBR.


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