Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Weight Of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Genre: General Fiction/Mystery
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 373
Book Source: Own audio

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

Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.

Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice.

Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her 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, professorial demeanor.

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

Depressingly good! That's the first words that spring to mind when reflecting on The Weight of Silence. Not a feel good story by any stretch of imagination but a sensitive often painful exploration of family, alcoholism, abuse, secrets, and friendship.

I''m glad I listened to this one on audio, it gave the multiple narrations clarity and depth. The only narration I didn't care for was the voice of Petra's father, Martin; but that's probably a matter of personal taste. The story isnt overly graphic but obviously any novel dealing with the tragedy of emotional and physical abuse is difficult to read and particularly sad to listen to.

Calli, Ben & Petra are characters that tug at your heartstrings, Calli and Ben for what they have been through with an abusive, alcoholic father and Petra for providing Calli with a voice and loving her best friend unconditionally. The reader is educated about the heartbreaking circumstances behind Calli's selective mutism but her silence also adds another element of suspense to this mystery.

The Weight Of Silence is definitely a story that stays with you and I'm looking forward to reading Heather Gudenkauf's new novel, These Things Hidden.

Visit the author's website to find out more.


  1. Sounds very depressing, but good in a weird way. :) Great review. I don't know if it's the right book for me, but I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Depressingly good kind of scares me, ok it's the depressing parts that scare me. But then sadness is everywhere so perhaps

  3. Oh, it sounds good, I'll have to keep this one in mind. But I'm in the mood for escapism right now so it will have to wait for awhile! Great review!

  4. Sounds scary but a good story. Thanks for this review.

  5. I have heard really wonderful things about this book and the cover particularly makes me want to read it . Great review

  6. I read this about a year and a half ago. I found it hard to put down! Terrific review! "Depressingly good" -- I like that. :-)

  7. As Stephanie pointed out, the description of "depressingly good" is such a great way of explaining how a book, while sad and full of things that no one would expect to enjoy, is still a good book. I'm putting this on my list - I've really been trying to find a good audio and have had a few hits but mostly misses. Thanks for putting this on the radar :)


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