Tag Archives: Heather Gudenkauf

One Breath Away- Heather Gudenkauf

Image from Amazon

Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge via netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Note: This book is not yet released in the UK. It is due to be released on 6th July 2012

Synopsis (from Amazon)

He has a gun.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?


I’ve often heard Heather Gudenkauf being compared to Jodi Picoult, who is a bit of favourite for me. I’ve only read one book by Gudenkauf before, The Weight of Silence, which I partially read because I had read a good review, and partly read because it looked at a topic Picoult hadn’t explored- so I didn’t have to worry about comparing it to another novel. Picoult has written a book about a school shooting, Nineteen Minutes,  so I was a little concerned that I would end up comparing One Breath Away to Nineteen Minutes. Fortunately the parallels pretty much ended with the main topic so I was able to more or less read One Breath away as a book in its own right.

A big storyline was about trying to work out who the shooter was without seeing them. There was a certain element of mystery in this for the reader, however as the reader was able to see the shooter some of the theories were obviously untrue. In some ways I think it may have been better if the shooter was referred to in a more neutral way (e.g. by simply calling them the shooter which wouldn’t reveal anything about their gender, age, or race), this would have made it more of a mystery for the reader. Still it held enough mystery and suspense to make me want to keep reading to find out the answer- who was the gunman and why was he attacking the school. I did guess who it was before the end but I think maybe Gudenkauf writes so the reader will guess a little before the characters make a discovery because there is some victory in being able to guess ‘who dunnit’. Personally I prefer to be a bit shocked and surprised but I can see how some people may prefer being able to correctly guess.

I did really enjoy the shooting storyline, especially how the reader could see different points of view of the shooting. It would have been nice to see the gunman’s view to an extent, however it wasn’t essential and it would have taken some mystery out of the story.

I did have one problem with the book though, there were just to many different storylines. There was of course the main storyline of the shooting, but all the characters seemed to have some other issue which was effecting their lives. I can see why Gudenkauf did it generally- it provided more possible suspects- but it was just to much.


You cannot yet purchase One Breath Away but you can pre-order it from Amazon:

Paperback (£3.92)

Kindle (£6.39)

Other Reviews:

Giraffe Days

Leeswammes’ Blog

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Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Mystery

The Weight of Silence- Heather Gudenkauf

Cover of "The Weight of Silence"

Cover of The Weight of Silence

Synopsis (from Amazon)

When two seven-year-old girls go missing, all are under suspicion. Calli Clark is a dreamer. A sweet, gentle girl, Callie suffers from selective mutism, brought on by a tragedy she experienced as a toddler. Her mother Antonia tries her best to help, but is confined by marriage to a violent husband. Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli have been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Now Calli and Petra’s families are bound by the question of what has happened to their children. As support turns to suspicion, it seems the answers lie trapped in the silence of unspoken secrets.


The Weight of Silence is described in more than one place as a book Jodi Picoult fans will love. Well I’m a Jodi Picoult fan, but to be honest that’s not something that would make me want to read a book, what’s the point of reading a book that’s like a book you have already read, I don’t know. I can certainly see the comparison between Gundenkauf and Picoult, they have very similar writing styles and both seem to like using multiple narrators. However that’s where the comparison really ends. While Pioult’s books tend to have some central moral issue which gets the reader thinking there was no such issue in Weight of Silence. I suppose it is similar in the way we see different emotions and views of an event, but there is no internal debate.

I did enjoy it all the same. It was actually a little bit of a mystery as we tried to work out what had happened to Petra (we are basically told what happened to Calli, or at least to a certain point). I admit that I did expect Calli’s mutism to be more of a central theme but really, while it was an interesting aspect, it didn’t seem necessary [highlight for spoiler]and where it could have mattered it didn’t that much. Nobody thought that Calli’s brother had actually hurt Petra, even though that was all she said. Calli’s big moment could have been done so much better and given a twist in the plot, or even just taken the reader in another direction. I did also guess what I think was meant to be a twist in the story [highlight for spoiler] and quite early on suspected Lucky. I really wasn’t surprised when we found out for sure it was him.

The story was quite moving though, but not to the level where I felt uncomfortable reading it (I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not). It was very readable, in that it was written in an easy way to read and in that I wanted to find out what happened next. I also really liked how Calli’s chapters were written in the third person rather than her own voice (as the other chapters were) which suggested she couldn’t tell her story.




Filed under Contempory, Fiction review