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One Breath Away    by Heather Gudenkauf Amazon.com order for
One Breath Away
by Heather Gudenkauf
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2012 (2012)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

While Holly recovers from severe burns and related infections, her children are sent thousands of miles away to the small town of Broken Branch, Iowa. Holly grew up on a farm there and she never wants to return.

Thirteen-year-old Augie wants to go home to Arizona. She feels responsible for the fire that put her mother in the hospital and hates not being with her. Her younger brother, P.J., misses his mother but he takes to farm life and in his grandfather, he finally finds the male role model he needs. The bond between the children is the only reason Augie agreed to go so far away, but her motherís attitude towards her grandfather and the town colors her perspective, making adjustment difficult.

In Broken Branch the thing every parent dreads happens. The school is taken over by a gunman. P.Jís third grade classroom is held hostage. Evelyn Oliver, in her last year of teaching before retirement, faces a challenge few teachers will ever face. She must keep her fear under control and do everything she can to keep her students safe.

Cut off from the rest of the world by a snow storm, the police department uses its limited forces to discover whether the hostage situation involves more than one gunman. What are his demands? Has someone already been shot? Meg, the newest officer on the force, has had experience with meaningless violence. Her brother terrified her family for years for no other reason than that he could. Sheíll do whatever it takes to catch this gunman before his anger blows and children die.

This is a good mystery despite some flaws in the plot. The author pulls us into the lives of Augie, P.J. and other town residents while the clock ticks toward disaster.

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