Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Published: June 26, 2012
Paperback: 370 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): 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 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.
My Thoughts: I've enjoyed Heather Gudenkauf's previous work and was anxious to read her newest one. While I didn't care as much for her second book, These Things Hidden, as I did for her first one, I was optimistic that this book would be a good read. And I was in luck! This book is a fast paced thriller, one that had me turning that pages and saying to myself, "Okay, I will go to bed after I finish this chapter." Then, five minutes later, "Okay, just one more chapter!" She had me on the edge of seat for this novel and it was hard to walk away from it. The story focuses on a gunman who enters an elementary school in a small town in Iowa. There are the children that are in the room with him, the teacher who's class is being held captive and she isn't sure what to do, the grandfather watching his children while his daughter recuperates from a fire, and the police officer who is handling the ordeal. Each chapter is told from a different character's point of view, so you really have a great understanding of what it's like in the room with the gunman, how you feel as a child, how a parent feels, and how a police officer is handling the pressure of such a situation.
The only complaint that I had about this novel was that the character's voices didn't differ that much between chapters. Mrs. Oliver's voice (the teacher in the room with the gunman) and Meg (the police officer) sounded very similar. It wasn't a huge distraction for me, but I do wish that there was a bit of a difference between each character. I love stories that are told my various characters and this one is definitely hard to put down. Gudenkauf is back in form in this novel and it makes me anxious to see what she will write next.