Review: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

silenceTitle: The Weight of Silence

Author: Heather Gudenkauf

Genre/Pages: Fiction/373

Publication: Mira; July 28, 2009

Rating: 3.5 BOOKMARKS

Employing multiple narrators, Heather Gudenkauf weaves a suspenseful novel about two young girls who go missing from their beds early one summer morning.

In the pre-dawn hours of an August morning in Iowa, seven-year-old Calli Clark is violently dragged into the woods against her will.  Her fear is palpable, but Calli can’t call out for help because she suffers from selective mutism.  Nearby, Petra Gregory, Calli’s best friend and voice, is lured from her own bedroom after spying something from her window.  Does she see her friend or is it someone more sinister?

As the novel progresses, the narrators shift with each new chapter.  We take in the story through the eyes of Calli, her mother Antonia, her older brother Ben, Petra’s dad, and Deputy Sheriff Louis.  Through each of their narratives, we get the backstory about Calli’s mutism, the family dynamics of the Clark household, life in the Gregory house, and Antonia’s relationship with Louis.

Gudenkauf gives Calli a voice as a narrator despite the fact that she doesn’t speak, while Petra, Calli’s mouthpiece in life, remains silent–her perspective of the story untold.  Anxiety builds as the novel progresses and suspicion is cast on several characters.  Compounding the fear is the  local unsolved murder of another little girl who went missing from her bedroom.  Will Calli and Petra meet the same end?

The Weight of Silence is such a page-turner–I read it in one night, staying up until the wee hours to finish it!  The novel is rife with symbols–the woods, the yellow house, the music note chain–and themes of family, friendship, substance abuse, and loss.   This book would be ideal for a book club selection and comes with discussion questions at the end of the novel. 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book!


19 responses to “Review: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

  1. Just finished this one yesterday — my review will be up in September! 🙂 It definitely was a page-turner and I enjoyed it… I had a few qualms, but they didn’t detract too much from the suspense and seriousness of the story. I did have to stop reading a few times to let my stomach settle down, though… I’m such a Nervous Nancy! 🙂

  2. I zipped through this one, too…I needed to know what happened! I thought the author did a great job building the tension with both the disappearances and the family issues.

  3. Oooh, a page turner sounds good right about now!

  4. I read it as quick as I could as well. I had it at work and I would stare at it longingly, wondering if I could get away with reading just one more page. 🙂

    Thanks for the great review, Nat!

  5. This is new to me–sounds great!

  6. I saw this in the bookstore this past weekend, but picked up The Art of Racing in the Rain instead. Hmm, perhaps I need to head back to the bookstore!

  7. OK, I’m sucked in. Guess I’ll read it (must know what happens!!)

  8. Thank you for the wonderful review! THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE takes place in August just before school starts for the year. One of the main characters, Calli, mostly loves school. She has caring teachers and an insightful school counselor who tries to help her speak again. Calli does have one unfortunate run-in with an ignorant guest teacher, but Petra is there to intervene and help her best friend. As this new school year begins, think about the teachers who have made a difference in your life or in the lives of your children. Maybe stop in to thank your favorite teacher or jot them a note. It would mean the world to them.

  9. I saw this book at Costco and passed it up. I am going to have to go back tomorrow and pick it up. Thanks for the great review.

  10. I definitely like a page turner. Sounds like a good one.

  11. Wow … what a terrific review. This books sounds disturbing yet irresistible.

  12. What a great review! I just picked this book up this weekend and am really looking forward to it!
    Thanks for sharing it here!


  13. justicejenniferreads

    Great review – you definitely make me want to pick this up and stay up into the wee hours reading it.

  14. WHY? Why is she mute? What happens to the girls??

    I love a suspenseful page turner, even if it is about a very scary parental fear.. Off to the store..

  15. I love when a book makes you stay up late to finish it … but I can’t afford that little sleep. Still, I’ll check it out.

  16. Pingback: Review – The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf | Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?

  17. Excellent review! I was kept up late by this one too. 🙂 I’m linking to this post at my blog.

  18. I’ve heard great things about this book and can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the review!

  19. Pingback: Sophisticated Dorkiness | Review: The Weight of Silence

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