Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton ★★★★★
Published : 9th January 2020
Publisher : Viking
Format : Hardcover, Kindle, Paperback, Audio
Genre : Suspense
Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning's lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.
In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.
Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff,
to teenage Hannah in love for the first time,
to the parents gathering desperate for news,
to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother,
to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen,
to the students taking refuge in the school theatre,
all experience the most intense hours of their lives,
Where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.
Thank you Ellie Hudson @penguinrandomhouse for this amazing advanced copy.
Let me start my review by saying that this story is powerful, terrifying, gripping and heartbreakingly emotional.
The story opens with the head teacher Mr Marr. He has been shot by a gunman who is in the hall of his school, Hannah a sixth form pupil dragged him inside the library where other children are hiding and he is slowly in and out of consciousness. The children are trying to barricade the door with the library books, this won't work, he has seen the guns and ammo this man has, but it makes them feel better.
Hannah is desperately trying to stop Mr Marrs head and foot from bleeding, as she does so she thinks of this morning, less then an hour ago...
It's snowing and Hannah and Rafi are running through the woods next to their school, holding hands and in love spending a few more moments together before school begins.
Suddenly Rafi has to run off, and all that Hannah had to worry about in that moment was if Rafi would see what a weirdo she was for having to stop running because of a coughing fit, because he never said why he had to leave…
Rafi had to leave and get to his eight year old brother, Basi at junior school because he knows he will be scared out of his mind to see the snow fall whereas all the other children will be excited and exhilarated.
But to Basi snow brings very bad memories, Rafi and Basi are refugees brought over from Syria, they have both been through so much, seen so much that children, even men should not have ever to see. Mr Marr the head teacher found them at the Dunkirk Refugee camp and fought tooth and nail to get them over here, safe and with foster parents.
Suddenly Rafi hears a bang, no louder then firecrackers ahead of him, he ups his speed now and runs to Basi, he has to get him out and away from here, because Rafi knows that what he just saw was not fire crackers but a homemade bomb.
Two gunmen have taken over Cliff Heights school.
Junior school has managed to be evacuated thanks to Rafi, a sixth former who heard a bomb go off but there are children hiding out all over old school and young children out in the pottery shed in the woods making little clay acorns, oblivious to the red alert warning that has been set off, to the gunman sitting hiding in the snow outside pointing a semi automatic at there windows and to the sheer danger that surrounds them.
Camille, their teacher knows, she has seen him and has made the children make a house under the tables on the floor whilst she slowly puts clay tiles up against the glass to take some of the impact when it comes…
Told from various different perspectives, students, teachers and parents waiting to hear if their kids made it out or are still stuck inside the school.
A story about a mothers love for a son that is missing and unaccounted for, having to sit and wait with other scared parents while she hears of news of her beloved child, praying that he is safe.
A mother, who naively believes her boy is safe and will message when he can, not listening to the part of her brain that is telling her that her son has been withdrawn and depressed for the past six months, cut off completely from his parents and acting strange and distant, because no mother wants to admit that their own baby has been lost to them for a while and bravery, of children and teachers pulling together to survive and not be beaten.
My heart was up in my throat for the entirety of this book, every page was more gripping then the last and I found myself gasping out loud on more then one occasion. My emotions were all over the place, outrage for Rafi and Basi, innocent children who fled extreme horror and was lucky to both survive there dangerous journey with strange men across dangerous seas, anger that they are being targeted purely because of there background religion.
Utter sadness for the mother of a boy she so desperately wants to believe is safe and will contact her soon, but the agonising truth of what he has become and what he is doing was heart wrenching to read as she slowly found out more and more, slowly realising that the boy she once knew isn't the boy she has now lost forever.
Fear for the little eight year old boy hiding, shivering in the shed waiting for his big brother to come and find him and so sad at the thought that all the little five and six year olds oblivious to the armed gunman outside the pottery room.
I couldn't put this book down and found myself willing them to all survive. In this country, apart from the horrors of Dunblane, we don't have gun terrorism in our schools, not like they do in America.
But this book actually made me nervous of my own four children who are in school, and the very real reality that yes, this could happen over here but I pray it doesn't.
I love Rosamund Lupton books, all have had me on the edge of my seat, I thought Sister was my favourite, until this one.
If you love a gripping read, this book is for you.
Set over a time period of three hours, this story takes you hour by hour to what is happening to students, teachers and parents, all there thoughts, feelings and emotions so expertly written that you could almost believe you was reading a true story what with the quotes from UK newspapers and twitter regarding racism over muslims inner country and real events being mixed in with the story, MP Jo Cox's murder and Trump and Katie Hopkins mindless racial tweets all mix together a story that is compelling and unfortunately reminds you that there are far to many people in this world that see colour and religion instead of human beings merely wanting to survive and live a life in safety instead of fear.
If there was a literary award to be won, it should be for this one.
Everyone should read this book and be left to not only gather yourself after emotionally but to also take away the message it is secretly trying to tell you.
Meet the author...
Rosamund Lupton is the author of four novels.
Rosamund Lupton graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. After reviewing books for the Literary Reviews and being invited to join the Royal Court Theatre, she won a television play competition and subsequently worked as a screen writer. Her debut novel Sister, was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, has been translated into over thirty languages and has international sales of over 1.5 million copies. It was the fastest-selling debut of 2010 by a British author, and was winner of the Richard and Judy Best Debut Novel of 2011 Award and the Strand Magazine Critics First Novel Award. Film rights of Sister are currently under option.
Lupton’s critically acclaimed second novel Afterwards also went straight into the Sunday Times bestseller lists and was the No. 2 Sunday Times fiction bestseller of 2011. The Quality of Silence her third novel was a Sunday Times best seller and a Richard & Judy bookclub pick
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I hope you enjoyed reading my review.