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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BREATHTAKING THRILLER -- A REVIEW

On the last day before Spring break in a small rural community in Iowa, a gunman enters the elementary school and takes a roomful of students hostage. Because of the maze-like structure of the school in Broken Branch, it is impossible for the students and teachers throughout the school to know if he has accomplices or is acting alone, and for most of them, the actions are also unknown to them as they wait in an intense lockdown.

The story opens with Holly Baker, a young woman who is lying in a hospital bed in Arizona after suffering serious injuries in a fire. Recovering from burns, grafts, and the anxiety of separation from her two children, Augie and P. J., Holly's angst intensifies when she receives a call from her daughter Augie. She says she is in a closet in the school at Broken Branch—where she is staying with Holly's parents—and a man is shooting.

From there, readers are shown the intensity of the situation in alternating points of view as the narrators tell the taut story as it unfolds. From Holly, helpless in Arizona, to Meg, a police officer with her own issues, we come to know the fear, the helplessness, and the mystery of each of them, and wonder, as they do, why, in this previously safe community, someone would do this horrendous thing. Augie's voice tells the story of her family, as well as her fears in this situation, just as we learn more about the teacher, Mrs. Oliver, in whose classroom the gunman waits, his agenda and his story totally unknown.

Breathtaking, the short intense chapters lead the reader to the startling conclusion, asking these questions and more: Who is this man and why has he targeted this school? Is he a disgruntled former student? Is he a parent in a bitter custody battle over a child? Or does he have no connection at all with any of these victims?

Aptly named, One Breath Away kept me rapidly turning pages, breathless with anticipation as I guessed one after the other of these possibilities as each red herring was introduced...until finally, I started to put it together just before the final reveal. A quick and captivating read, this one earned five stars.

12 comments:

  1. As a parent, I imagine this would be a terrifying read. One day a friend received a text from her daughter at school that she was safe. The mother is thinking, "Ok, why wouldn't you be safe?" She tried to turn on the local news on television and realized she didn't know how to turn on the TV and cable. She ended up having to go next door to watch the news and see the school was in lock down. Every thing turned out ok. Here's Mine

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  2. I agree that I wouldn't be able to read this one too easily if I had young children at home. As it is, I worry about my grandchildren. Thanks for stopping by, Paulita.

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  3. I loved this as well!

    Shelleyrae

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  4. It was definitely a thrill ride! Thanks for stopping by, Shelleyrae.

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  5. This really sounds good. I have to admit I'd probably sneak a peek at the end to make sure everything turned out well, then I'd begin at the beginning. Thanks, Laurel.

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  6. Oh, I know how tempting that is, Joylene....thanks for stopping by, and enjoy!

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  7. This is definitely going on the to-read list!

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  8. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thanks for stopping by, Carrie.

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  9. I liked it but you certainly liked it more than me. I did however dig the short intense chapters. That worked for me!!

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  10. I'm reading this one myself at the moment.
    Great review Laurel!

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  11. Staci, I guess the short chapters helped to heighten the intensity...it definitely did that. Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. Thanks, Naida...hope you do enjoy it. Glad you stopped by.

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