- Fizzy Thoughts: The Weight of Silence

The Weight of Silence

Tuesday, August 18, 2009



The Weight of Silence
Heather Gudenkauf
August 2009
384 pages

Publisher Comments:
It happens one August morning. As dawn's light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing.

Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy as a toddler. Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to do the best she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay has cost more than her daughter's voice.

Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend and voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual demeanor.

Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of family secrets.


The author does a fantastic job of building the tension in this book. For the first half of the book there is the question of who took the children. The second half of the book is more about resolution and both families finding answers to their questions, as well as justice. And because there is a slight twist to the story, I don’t want to discuss any of the details of the story. But I will say I was compelled to keep reading because of the need to know what happens, and also because of the characters.

What is especially touching is the friendship between the two girls. Calli is selectively mute (and that’s another great question that kept me reading), and Petra acts as her voice. The girls are so close that Petra seems to instinctively know what Calli wants and needs. How this plays out later is wonderful to read.

Some people probably won’t want to read this because of the disappearance factor. I remember this issue coming up with Precious. And while the two books are nothing alike (other than having strong characterization and being great reads), I will say the disappearance of the girls plays a much larger role in this book. So while I always hate to warn people off of books, I would say that moms who worry about the abduction of their daughters and who don’t like to read things like that should probably not dive right into this one. And I wouldn’t normally bring this up, but I remember how some people were reluctant to read Precious for this very reason.

This is a very impressive debut novel…I hope Gudenkauf keeps up the good work. :-)

15 comment(s):

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Well, you've got me interested too in what happens to the girls!

Jo-Jo said...

Ok...you hooked me too! Thanks for the review, I definitely want to read this one now.

Louise said...

Excellent review. I am not a mom, and haven't read that many books about disappearances and abductions, but I remember one, it came highly recommended and was an Oprah book and all that, and I just felt it was...dull.

So your excellent review aside, this is not a plot which interests me at all.

Beth F said...

Strong characters and the friendship aspect both attract me.

bermudaonion said...

I really want to read the book, but I do understand how a subject matter like that can upset some people. Thanks for a thoughtful review.

Care said...

I've already tbr'd this - it looks so good!

Ramya said...

This sounds like a good read.. I like stories that have a suspense and someunexpected turns.. totally makes your reading time worth it!

Charley said...

I hadn't heard of this before now - it sounds really good.

Diane said...

I just received this one from a Paperback Swap member. I'm glad to see you enjoyed it!

trish said...

I'm so glad you liked it! I really liked it too...very compelling!

lisamm said...

Hi Jill, great review! I must know why she is mute. WHY? WHY??

lisamm said...

Hi Jill, great review! I must know why she is mute. WHY? WHY??

wordlily said...

I liked this one too; my review should be up next week. I thought it was a very well-written book.

Jenners said...

This one has been making the rounds it seems and every time I read a review, I want to read it more. I like "disappearance" stories ... I've read at least two this year so far but this sounds like the best yet. (And not that I'm into kids being disappeared or anything ... just that I like the suspense of it.)

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

You have been reading some good books! I can distance myself from the disappearance/abuse in most books (unless it's graphic); you certainly got my attention with this review!

Did you read Kirk Curnutt's BREATHING OUT THE GHOST? I think he handled a similar situation very well.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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