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 13-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.
©2012 Heather Gudenkauf (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
After a number of mediocre listens, this came as a breath of fresh air! Great writing and superbly narrated with varied voices. Loved it and will be looking out for more of this author.
"Narrators make or break the book!"
With the exception of Susan Ericksen, Joyce Bean and Laural Merlington, the other narrators ruined an otherwise good novel. Excellent story.
"Not Gudenkauf's standard"
Yes. This book would've best been served as a novella. It drags on so long, and honestly doesn't go anywhere. The characters just ring flat in some places and act emotionally overrun in others.
Perhaps the narration also contributed to this thought; no narrator shines in this performance either.
The relationship between Holly and her parents and children was the most interesting; the least interesting was probably the gunman and his identity and motive.
I have listened to some of these narrators before; some are better than others, but as an ensemble I just couldn't finish.
This is not up to the potency of Gudenkauf's "The Weight of Silence" or the strong female leads in "These Things Hidden." I wanted to like this book, but it just meanders along with rabit trails that lead nowhere and everywhere, and I know that Gudenkauf is up to better than this.
"Flat As An Iowa Prairie"
I like Heather Gudenkauf's work. I was in complete thrall of "The Weight of Silence" and read it in one sitting on a Boston-Sacramento flight recently. But this? What is this? Is the author trying to borrow and apply the suspense and minute-by-minute trauma of the families in "The Weight of Silence"? If that's what she's doing, it isn't working. Instead of getting into the hearts and minds of the families and community players, the reader has to stand back and watch the author paint the scenes using a very bland, broad brush outlining the main features without developing anything substantial.
There is only a lot of small-town gossip and nothing really happens. However, I must qualify this review because I have not finished the book due to a diminishing supply of patience.
I don't object to books that are mostly back story if the stories are detailed and layered enough. But these tales are shallow and merely skim the surface of buried family drama and small-town dysfunction. I want to know more but there is nothing there. Ack! Frustrating!
The Columbine/Virginia Tech plot homage is not even frightening, and the entire scene comes off flat as an Iowa prairie.
But the narration is great.
"excellent who is it?"
Great story that keeps you guessing until the very end. Perfect performance by all readers that enable you to see each character and visualize the story. I really enjoyed it.
"A very good read"
Books for me don't have to be great every time, but they have to make me feel like I didn't waste my precious time. This was one of those books, not breath taking, but a good lazy read.
"If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult"
If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, you are going to love this tightly knit drama.
What could be more terrifying than a gunman in a school!
Told from the viewpoints of the children, their families, teachers and the police, this story is a compelling account of the events that unfolded on this horrific day.
Heather Gudenkauf had me captivated from the start and it is easy to see why I love her novels.
"Tension Builds Throughout"
Yes. I really enjoy this one. The Narrators were fantastic and the tension in this one builds gradually but, oh so very effectively. I only gave the story four stars, because I did not walk away having a true understanding of the cause of the rift between Holly and her father. Early on, I did have my suspicions correct as to who the gunman was, but the author managed to convince me I was incorrect and throw enough doubt on my theories to make me disbelieve myself. I love it when someone can do that! By the end I was convinced it was someone else.
It's hard not to love and empathize with Augie, as it is clear that she has mothered not only her little brother, but her mother as well. She is one determined and protective young lady.
I think if I read the book on paper, the sincerity and angst of little P. J. might have less impact. The narrator managed to bring home the lost and somewhat abandoned feelings this little boy carries in his heart.
Yes, it kept drawing my back.
I will read more of this author.
"Nothing fresh here."
Not a terrible book just same-old-same-old. I fast forwarded to the end about 2/3 through the audio. Save your credit even if you liked any of her previous books.
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