Who? Tell me, where are you? Who has a gun?
I love you, Mum.
An ordinary school day in March, snowflakes falling, classroom freezing, kids squealing with delight, locker-doors slamming. Then the shooting started. No-one dared take one breath...
He's holding a gun to your child's head. One wrong answer and he says he'll shoot.
This morning you waved goodbye to your child. What would you have said if you'd known it might be the last time?
The day starts out like any normal day with children going to school on the last day of term and workers going about their everyday routine but little do they know what events are about to unfold in their quiet rural town of Broken Branch, Iowa.
This story is told by multiple narrators; Holly, Augie, Meg, Mrs Oliver and Will, all telling the events of the day from their standpoint.
When Holly receives a phone call from her daughter Augie saying that there's a gunman at her school who's holding a gun to her brother P.J's head, she feels completely helpless not least because she's recovering from terrible injuries in a hospital hundreds of miles away. Both Augie and P.J were now staying with their grandparents, Will and Marlys, at their farm in Broken Branch whilst she recuperates.
For Mrs Oliver the day started as just another day, counting down to her forthcoming retirement, but when the gunman targets her class her first instinct is to protect her pupils to ensure that they are all survive this ordeal.
Meanwhile, Meg has to try and co-ordinate the volunteer forces from nearby towns whilst trying to come up with a solution to end the siege peacefully and at the same time try to identify the gunman. She's glad that her daughter Maria is not at school today, as she's with her dad Tim, as otherwise she'd have been in Mrs Oliver's class.
Why did he target this school and Mrs Oliver's class in particular? Will they all make it out unharmed?
At first I did wonder if the fact this story was told through multiple viewpoints would detract from the storyline but as the stories were all interlinked this was actually not the case at all. This is one book that once I started I didn't want to stop reading and read it within a day!
One Breath Away is the first book by Heather Gudenkauf that I've actually read although I do have both of her previous books, The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden, in boxes of books that I've been given by a friend. Having loved this book I'll have to try and find time to read both of her previous books to see whether they are as good.
I'd like to thank Lizzie at Midas PR for sending me a proof copy of this book to review.