Synopsis: 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.
I read this book at the time of the school shooting in Connecticut. The book deals with the similar situation that of a gunman inside a school. Nobody knows who this gunman is, is he a parent? an ex-student? And what does he have against the kids in the school?
As with Gudenkauf’s other book, These Things Hidden, this too is told from multiple points of view, from the different characters that are affected with this incident. Each character’s account builds on the other and it doesn’t get confusing at any point. What I like about Gudenkauf’s writing is the narratives of each of the characters and it is very engaging.
In this book we get an inside out and outside in perspective about the school situation in the small town. Another thing I liked about the book is how this tense situation affects the relationship dynamics between the people of the town. The prejudices and false appearances give way to true feelings as the people try to find out who the gunman in the school is. The mystery is a bit of a let down but if you like to read about characters and their nuances then you must pick this one up.