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One Breath Away

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  16,688 ratings  ·  2,133 reviews
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
Paperback, 379 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Harlequin MIRA (first published May 29th 2012)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,688 ratings  ·  2,133 reviews

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Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-read
When a lone gunman walks into a local school in Broken Branch, Iowa it sends the whole school and the community into total chaos. The gunman takes a whole classroom, including the teacher hostage, but no one knows precisely why or what he really wants or who he is.

Outside the school is a gathering of worried and frantic parents and family who just want answers, but unfortunately no one holds any answers. Will the police be able to get all the hostages out safely and back to their loved ones?

Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook-arc
One Breath Away is a great example of why Heather Gudenkauf has quickly become a must-read author for me. She is a master storyteller, and I loved every second that I spent reading this book. The author was able to rachet the tension so high that I felt like I was on pins and needles, breathless, throughout the entire story. Gudenkauf created characters that I quickly cared about, and I sympathized with them and hoped for a positive outcome to their situation. Telling the story from different vi ...more
Mandie Lowe
Feb 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: undiscerning readers, masochists
Recommended to Mandie by: Fiction Fanatics
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I knew it was about a school shooting, or at least a gunman inside a school, so I thought it would either be a tear-jerk drama, or a psychological thriller. I was hoping for the latter.

My heart was definitely pounding harder while reading this book, but not from the thrill. I experienced rage at how unbelievably stupid the characters were. Rarely do I want to harm a book, but I wanted to smack this one against the floor, tear out pages with my teeth,
This is the second book I've read by Heather Gudenkauf and it is absolutely outstanding! This is an extremely well-written, fast-paced novel with well-drawn out characters, each one had their issues and their flaws, yet all of them were likeable. The plot is gripping and full of action and suspense. The story is told from the perspective of five characters involved in the school hostage situation; Augie (a student in the school), Mrs Oliver (a teacher), Holly (the mother of Augie who is in hospi ...more
Lisa B.
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-books, favorites
This is my first Heather Gudenkauf book and oooooh - what a dandy. The story is fast paced and hooked me from the very first page. I like the way the story unfolded from five different viewpoints: Augie, Will, Mrs. Oliver, Meg and Holly. Not only did we move forward with each charcter, but also backwards to get an understanding of each individual and what lead them to this fateful day.

Ms. Gundenkauf writes a well organized, fast paced story. I always like that I have to get to the very end befor
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I am a big Heather Gudenkauf fan, so I had high expectations going into this novel. Unfortunately, I didn't love it as much as I had hoped.

This book was told in alternating perspectives by Holly, Augie, Meg, Mrs. Oliver, and Will. We meet Holly in the first chapter. She has been badly burned in a house fire and is miles away from her children in a hospital located in Revelation, Arizona. Her children, Augie and P.J., are staying in Broken branch, with their grandparents. Holly cannot believe her
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One Breath Away is an intriguing story about what happens in a small midwestern town when a lone gunman enters a school with one thing on his mind - revenge. I was on the edge of my seat and tearing up, very good!
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: two-star
When you have recently read an excellent book - and have somewhat of a book hangover - the only problem is the next book has to also be pretty special to keep the momentum going. I chose this novel based on its favourable reviews, it sounded just my cup of tea. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in its execution.

Written in the style of Jodi Picoult (I am a fan of hers); told from the perspectives of several characters, we are introduced to the townspeople involved in a hostage situation taking pl
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Heather Gudenkauf is one of my favorite authors. This is an extremely well-written novel. It is fast-paced yet easy to follow and held my interest throughout. I was on edge often throughout the novel. The story is told from five different perspectives and I found the multiple narratives interesting and easy enough to follow.
An ordinary school day a the local school in Broken Branch, Iowa. A lone gunman has entered the school and taken a classroom of children along with their teacher hostage. No
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this 400 page book in one day, I just could not put it down. The main story is about a gunman holding kids hostage in a small town school, as told by four characters. One breath had me on the edge of my seat and guessing until the last chapters. The characters was also very well rounded with enough flaws to make them seem real. This is my second book by Heather Gundenkauf, and I will be reading everything she publishes
Lauren Hopkins
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
POSSIBLE's a pretty good book and the author, Heather Gudenkauf, is such an interesting storyteller, unfolding the events of only a few hours in such a way that keeps you heavily invested. However, she throws so many red herrings your way that it makes it so easy to guess who's responsible. A man with a gun has entered a school in a small town in Iowa and the town races to find out who he is to stop him from killing a potentially great deal of people. There are many characters brou ...more
This was a wonderfully written novel, Heather Gudenkauf’s best to date in my opinion. Each chapter was written in the voice of the main characters, and I found I clicked with them straight away.

Holly, Augie and PJ’s mum, is in hospital after a dreadful fire at home, where she was burned pretty badly around her face and one arm. Holly’s mum, Maryls, has come to be with her in the hospital, and in the meantime, Augie and PJ have been sent to live with their grandfather at the farm Holly grew up on
Diane S ☔
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
As I was reading this book I kept thinking "This would make an awesome movie", not because of the way it was written but because the suspense makes one want to keep turning the pages. There is a gunman in the school. a school in a rural area that holds grades K-12, and the school goes on lock down. This is not another Columbine though, the shooter is there for a specific purpose and for a specific person. The who and the why are the big questions and the story is related by four different narrat ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 starts for Heather Gudenkauf's One Breath Away. I enjoyed this novel. The story revolves around an ordinary school day in March and the local school in Broken Branch, Iowa, where a gunman has entered the school and taken a classroom of children and their teacher hostage. Nobody knows who the gunman is or what he wants.

The story is told from five different perspectives and very cleverly written in the sense that the story is fast moving and your interest is held by short chapters with differ
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
One Breath Away is extremely slow, nothing happens. Each chapter brings stories of the characters that are totally unrelated to the main plot. Many useless details are there as page fillers, but the story never fully develops. The main characters are not believable, nothing is clear and the end is just disappointing and unreal.
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jun-12
What could be more terrifying than a gunman in a school!

Told from the viewpoints of the children, their families, teachers and the police, this story is a compelling account of the events that unfolded on this horrific day.

Heather Gudenkauf had me captivated from the start and it is easy to see why I love her novels.

Mark Rubinstein
Sep 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Given the spate of school shootings over the past few years, you would assume a novel about a gunman taking children hostage at a school in a small town would be as suspenseful as it is timely. Unfortunately, I found the suspense lacking and the tension watered down by the novel's construction which was skillfully done, but slowed the novel's narrative drive.

The story is told through the eyes of five narrators, all experiencing the horror and processing it in different ways. They are a mother o
Kelly Hager
May 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is my second book by Heather Gudenkauf (I still need to read her first novel) and this one is just phenomenal. I think it's hard to balance multiple narratives and make each one equally compelling (and a unique voice) and she manages to pull off five narrators in this book (Holly, her father and her daughter, plus a teacher at the school---the gunman is actually in her class---and a police officer investigating the case). Obviously I cared the most about Augie and Mrs. Oliver (the ones most ...more
Crystal Craig
Heather Gudenkauf's, One Breath Away is a character-driven novel full of suspense, but to me there seemed to be something missing. The entire time I was reading, I couldn't help thinking, been there, done that - like I'd read a similar storyline before. Also, the short choppy chapters and some of the back-story took away from the urgency of what was going on at the school. And, when the who and why was all revealed, I just wasn't sold. Having said all that, I did enjoy the characters. P.J. and A ...more
Greta is Erikasbuddy
I can't believe it!

Heather Gudenkauf has done it again!!

With a story that could be ripped straight from the headlines this book revolves around a gunman and a school.

Told in 5 points of view we get to hear straight from a child, a teacher, a grandfather, a mother/police officer, and another mother.

This story is intense. How would you feel if your child was trapped in a school in a hostage situation? What about your grandchild? What if you were the teacher who was being held hostage? What if the
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars!

Have you ever read a book that when you were done, you wish that you could erase your memory and read it again? In my opinion, One Breath Away is that kind of book!!!

I have read all of Heather's books and this one is my favorite, and for me it is tied with Whistling Past the Graveyard for my favorite book of the year.

Set in a small town, an unexpected snow storm rolls in creating its own chaos. Then an unknown person (or perhaps not) walks into the local school and holds a classroom o
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
OMG OMG OMG!!! I just love Heather's books! This one pulls you in from the very first page and does not let go! Each chapter is told by one person as events unfold around them!

Augie is the hero of the book in my opinion! I had no idea who it was until the end of the book! I loved the characters in One Breath Away and got easily wrapped up in their lives!

Great job Heather! Can't wait to read your next one! Hahahaha no pressure!!

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an ho
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chick-lit
Heather Gudenkauf makes you turn the pages just love her writing the story starts when a lone gunman holds a teacher & students hostage in a classroom every parents nightmare it's in the middle of a snowstorm outside the residents of Broken Branch wait& watches to see what will happen loved the characters & plot was strong well written had me guessing right to the end she is fast becoming one of my favourite authors ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

Keeping the tension high with short chapters, shifts in perspective and a situation that every parent dreads in the wake of Columbine and similar school tragedies, Gudenkauf has written a pacy suspense thriller that kept me turning the pages into the early hours of the morning.

In small town Iowa, a gunman holds a school hostage. Outside a blizzard rages while the police scramble to identify the man and prevent a massacre. Thousands of miles away a mother receives a phone call, "He has a gun."

Maudeen Wachsmith
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am reading this now and cannot put it down. Gudenkauf, has it it out of the ballpark yet again as she did with THESE THINGS HIDDEN and A BREATH OF SILENCE. ONE BREATH AWAY is a story ripped from the headlines: A gunman is holding children hostage at their school in a small town in Iowa. Who is he? And what is his motive? Through the voices of a female police officer, a third-grade teacher just about to retire, the grandfather of two of the students -- and his daughter lying in a hospital a tho ...more
Mary Kubica
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In short, I ended up burning my dinner during the last 50 pages of this book because I simply couldn't put it down. The character development is wonderful, as I felt very connected to each and every character in the book. ONE BREATH AWAY had me on the edge of my seat from the very first page until the last, and I was constantly speculating on the ending of the book - which took me by complete surprise! Another winner from Heather Gudenkauf! ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow! If you are looking for a page turner this is it!! I couldn't put it down! ...more
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based in a school in America that is put in lock down when a man with a gun enters. It follows the point of view of several people including a mum hundreds of miles away whose two children are in there
The two children then decide to stay in the school despite having the chance to leave
I like this author she creates very likable characters
I was catching my breath multiple times as I read this book like a fast-moving train headed for a collision I knew I couldn't stop! Heather Gudenkauf kept me hooked on an adrenalin rush as I sped through her chapter vignettes of each character's reactions and reactions to a gunman holding elementary school children hostage during an unexpected, debilitating snowstorm in a small town. While the book sounds like a clone of Columbine, it's not. I'm sure there may be similarities in how we might ima ...more
Soma Rostam
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have not read anything by the author, but from the blogging world, I know that her books are popular. And I consider her as one of the authors that I will always be on the look out for.
Holly, Augie, Will, Meg, and Mrs.Oliver's lives change drastically when a gunman enters the school, one cold day. Mrs. Oliver will do anything to keep her little students safe and sound from the gunman. Meg will go to extreme measures to do her duty and find out who the gunman in the local school is. Will will
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TeenReadClub: Februari: Broer - Heather Gudenkauf 4 9 Feb 26, 2015 05:24AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf 3 15 Jan 30, 2015 01:05AM  
Bookworm Buddies: Buddy read - One Breath Away 8 19 Jan 04, 2014 08:26AM  
Heather Gudenkauf 8 125 Oct 13, 2013 01:53AM  
Little Falls High...: One Breath Away 2 24 Jan 18, 2013 01:15PM  

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Heather is the NYT and USA Today Bestselling author of THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE and NOT A SOUND.

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