Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Weight of Silence
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. :-)