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Thursday, July 19, 2012

One Breath Away Blog Tour: Guest Post, Scavenger Hunt Book Excerpt, Book Review, and Giveaway

Hi, everyone!

I am pleased to participate in Heather Gudenkauf's One Breath Away Blog Tour hosted by Media Muscle.

About Heather:

Heather Gudenkauf is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novels The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden.  She lives in Iowa with her family. 


Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Heather!

Heather has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her!

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!
Thanks so much for joining us today, Heather!

TITLE: One Breath Away 
AUTHOR: Heather Gudenkauf 
FORMAT: Paperback, 400 pages
GENRE: Mystery, Suspense
ISBN: 9780778313656

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.


“Yesss!” the kids around me hiss. Great. I open my notebook to the next clean page and begin writing.

“During spring break we’re going to fly back to Arizona to see our mother.” 


I received this book for review from the publicist as part of the book tour. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.

One Breath Away is a highly-charged emotional read which I could not put down! It is about redemption, love, and forgiveness.

An armed man walks into a school in a small town and holds a classroom of Grade 3 students hostage, along with their teacher. The rest of the school is on lockdown, and the police are waiting the man out to determine his demands.

When I read the Press Release for this book and learned that it was told from five alternating viewpoints, I was a little hesitant. I love books told from two alternating points of view. When well done, I believe it greatly enhances the story. Unfortunately, I have read a couple of books where I found the storyline confusing because of the way it jumped back and forth between characters and timelines. This was not one of those cases! Gudenkauf masterfully handled the story not from two or three but FIVE points of view. Wow! She pulled it off! I was never confused about who was speaking. Each chapter was told from a different person's perspective and the person whose point of view was expressed was the name of the chapter. It took a bit for me to get into the heads of each of the characters, but I soon found my groove and I loved how the multiple points of view brought more dimension to each of the characters. Told in this manner, I really felt as though I knew the characters and had no trouble at all connecting with them.

The five points of view are told from:
  • Meg Barrett: A police officer who is called to the scene.
  • Mrs. Evelyn Oliver: The teacher in the Grade 3 classroom whose students are being held hostage by the madman.
  • Holly Baker: The daughter of Will and Marlys Thwaite, she left the small town of Broken Branch at the age of 17 years and never looked back. A horrible accident leaves her hospitalized, and there is no one to care for her two children, Augie and P.J., except her parents.
  • Augie Baker: The 13 year-old daughter of Holly Baker, whose brother is in Mrs. Oliver's third grade classroom.
  • Will Thwaite: The father of Holly Baker, and the grandfather of Augie and P.J.

As the points of view changed from person to person, these characters became more and more complex. My heart broke for each of them, as the unresolved pain of past mistakes weighed on each of them. Gudenkauf tied all the storylines together into a satisfying conclusion.

Each character has a plausible explanation for who the gunman is. I did accurately predict the identity of the gunman, who wasn't revealed until nearly the end of the book.

My favourite quote:

"We're always one breath away from something, living or dying, sometimes it just can't be helped."

This is my first book by Gudenkauf, but it won't be my last! I am definitely looking into her backlist.  


5 stars!! It was superb! I loved it, and I will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely read it! Thanks to Media Muscle for the review copy!

This book qualifies as: 

One lucky winner will win a paperback copy of One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below. 
This giveaway is open to Canada/US addresses only until 12:01 AM EST on July 26, 2012.


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