The Weight of Silence

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.”

Final-CoverThe Weight of Silence, Heather Gudenkauf’s  first novel, is poignant, suspenseful, and heart wrenching.  At the center of the story is the disappearance of two seven year old girls – Calli Clark, dragged from her bed and into the woods by her angry, drunken father, and her best friend, Petra Gregory, who goes missing at the same time.  Calli, who suffers from selective mutism (brought on by another traumatic event precipitated by her father four years earlier), is unable to cry for help or plead with her father to release her.  Meanwhile, Petra, who has been Calli’s “voice,” is facing grave danger of her own.

Gudenkauf tells the story through the alternating viewpoints of  the girls and their family members, a technique which allows the reader into the minds of each person involved.   So we come to know and understand Calli’s mother Antonia’s guilt, born of staying with a man she knows to be violent and hateful, and finally realizing why she seems powerless to leave him.  We see how much Calli’s brother Ben loves his sister, and marvel at the maturity of this 14 year old boy who seems willing to put his life on the line to save her.  Martin Gregory, Petra’s father, a mild mannered professor, reveals a strength and capacity for violence which surprises himself and his wife, Fielda, as he seeks revenge on his daughter’s abductor. 

And all the while, the “weight of silence” – Calli’s literal silence, and the unspoken secrets and hidden feelings of her family – plays a major role in determining whether the girls will return safely to their families and their homes.

The Weight of Silence is the kind of novel that begs to be read on a rainy Sunday, when you can devote the entire afternoon to this riveting story of family relationships, suspense, and danger.   Gudenkauf has written more than just a good suspense novel – she sets the scene beautifully, and provides complex characters who inspire emotional reactions from the reader.  Highly recommended!

~Thanks to Trish, and TLC Book Tours for the opporutnity to read and review this book.~

TLC  Book Tours Discount Offer:  Purchase The Weight of Silence  by September 15, 2009, at and recieve 10% off by enetering the coupon code  SILENCE10.

The Weight of Silence, by Heather Gudenkauf

Published by Mira Books, July 2009

373 pages

Includes Reading Group guide


13 thoughts on “The Weight of Silence

  1. I agree that this book should be read when you have time to read the whole thing. It’s an easy book to get lost in, so I don’t recommend reading it during work, because you might go past your one hour lunch. Don’t ask me how I know that. 😀

  2. Thank you for the wonderful review! And thank you for mentioning the character of Ben, Calli’s brother. I think he’s my favorite character in the book with the way he looks out for and defends his sister.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and review my book – I really appreciate it!

    • Heather, congratulations on such a wonderful debut novel!

      I was really touched by Ben’s character. I work with teenagers, so I have a soft spot in my heart for young people. I am so often amazed at the way they can step up to a challenge, and Ben was a good example of that kind of courage, determination, and loyalty.

      Looking forward to reading more of your work in the future!

  3. This sounds a magnificent book, but is it an easy read? From what you say I wonder if it isn’t rather harrowing? Nevertheless, it’s certainly one I’d be interested in. We have a little boy comes into our local Library who is a selective mute and I often wonder what the story is behind his mutism.

    • Ann, the author has done a very good job of keeping the suspense high without making the book horrific.

      I had never heard of “selective mutism” prior to reading this book. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

  4. Pingback: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf « Word Lily

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