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The Weight of Silence [Paperback]

Heather Gudenkauf
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

16 April 2010
“Two little girls are missing. Both are seven years old and have been missing for at least sixteen hours.” Calli Clark is a dreamer. A sweet, gentle girl, Callie suffers from selective mutism, brought on by a tragedy she experienced as a toddler. Her mother Antonia tries her best to help, but is trapped in a marriage to a violent husband. Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli have been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Now Calli and Petra’s families are bound by the question of what has happened to their children. As support turns to suspicion, it seems the answers lie trapped in the silence of unspoken secrets. “Deeply moving and exquisitely lyrical, this is a powerhouse of a debut novel.” Tess Gerritsen “Beautifully written, compassionately told, and relentlessly suspenseful.” Diane Chamberlain

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (16 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778303691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778303695
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing impairment Heather tended to use books as a retreat. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.

Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and is currently a Literacy Coach, an educator who provides curricular and professional development support to teachers.

Heather lives in Dubuque, Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Maxine. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. She is currently working on her third novel.

Heather's first novel The Weight of Silence was a TV Book Club pick.

Product Description


'A great thriller, probably the kind of book a lot of people would chose to read on their sun loungers. It will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult.' --Radio Times

'Deeply moving and exquisitely lyrical, this is a powerhouse of a debut novel.' --Tess Gerritsen

'Beautifully written, compassionately told, and relentlessly suspenseful.' --Diane Chamberlain

About the Author

Born with a hearing impairment, Heather became a voracious reader as a child and the seed of becoming a writer was planted. She lives in Dubuque, Iowa, with her husband, three children and German Shorthaired pointer. She is currently working on her next novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where are they? 25 Jun 2010
This story is spread over a sixteen hour period when two 7 year old girls both vanish from their houses on the same night, without a trace. Calli suffers from selective mutism and hasn't spoken since she was 4 years old, despite councelling and psychological help. Her best friend, Petra, understands Calli and acts as her mouthpiece to other friends and adults alike.

The book is written a chapter at a time by a different narrator: as well as the two girls, there is also Antonia and Ben (Calli's Mum and brother), Martin (Petra's Dad) and Sherrif Louis (who was an childhood sweetheart of Antonia's and is still in love with her). From the first realisation of a disappearance (at 4.30am) until the conclusion the reader is taken on a journey through the adults attempt to bring the girls home safely.

This may sound like the book is a thriller / mystery type and at times I did wonder if that was what it was trying to be: however if that was its intention then I'm not sure it works. There is a crime committed but it's pretty obvious "whodunnit" in both the girls cases fairly early on and the great revelation at the end falls a bit flat. The book really centres around Calli's muteness more than anything and her reasons for being that way. I also suspect that this was meant to be some great revelation too but again, it's not hard to work out why pretty early on.

I don't mean to sell the book short as, admitidly, it is a real page-turner. The short chapters that are alternately narrated by a different character means that the book has great forward momentum and I do like that in a book; one where you say "just one more chapter" and then again and again until you've read the whole thing before you know it.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
By Jackie
The Weight of Silence is the final book in the TV Book Club's Summer Reads selection and as I'm drawn to books about families in crisis I decided to give it a try.

The book follows two families who wake one morning to discover that their 7-year-old daughters have disappeared. A frantic hunt for them begins with suspicion for their disappearance thrown on numerous people throughout the story.

The book was fast paced and made up almost entirely of dialogue - this combined with the fact that the book was narrated by six different people meant that I felt I was just skimming the surface, never really getting to know any of the individual characters or the motivations for their actions. I was dragged along by the action, forced to turn the page by the continual end-of-chapter cliff hangers, but never felt any emotional connection to the characters.

There were some tender moments and I especially liked this paragraph about marriage:

"People say that being a mother is the most important job you will ever have. And it is very important. But it is even more important, I believe, to be a wife, a good wife.... I don't mean you have to be a floor mat. That not what I mean at all. I mean, who you choose to walk with through life will be the most important decision that you will ever, ever make. You will have your children and you will love them because they are yours and because they will be wonderful....But who you marry is a choice. The man you choose should make you happy, encourage you in following your dreams, big ones and little ones."

But these moments of genius were rare and I ended the book feeling a bit disappointed. The resolution to the mystery of the girls' disappearance wasn't particularly original or surprising and I felt that certain plot points were a bit dubious.

Overall this was a light, entertaining read, but I don't expect to remember much about it next year.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, moving, raw and enthralling! 21 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered this book based on a 20 word review in a book industry magazine. When I started it, I was enthralled from the first moment, enjoying the way the story unravels, loving the mystery and desperately wanting further clues to be revealed. This is a wonderful novel told through the eyes of several characters, allowing you to get to know and understand them and share their fears and desires. If you enjoyed Alice Seybold's "The Lovely Bones", you will love this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Two little girls have gone missing from their homes in the early hours of the morning - this book follows the stories of the various people involved.
The book is divided into short chapters which are narrated by different characters showing the difference perspectives, including those of Calli and Petra, the missing girls.
Calli's chapters are written in the third person which works as a contrast to the first person used for the other voices - she doesn't talk to anyone so why would she talk to a book!!
Right at the beginning the girls go missing, combine this with the fast pace and the reader is immediately given the feeling of panic being experienced across the town.
As the book progresses, the backgrounds of all the characters emerge, full of the inevitable secrets and hidden emotions.
The relationships between the characters are described very well - they are all slightly off the norm which makes for an interesting read (eg Toni and Louis - Calli and Ben).
The actual plot is very sensational with the twists and turns feeling too coincidental and, consequently, unreal in places.
The book is compared on the cover to Jodi Piccoult but does not have the same quality of a believeable plot, never the less, well worth reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced and enjoyable.
I couldn't put it down I have one more to read from this author and then I will be lost!
Published 16 days ago by Ida's mum
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked from the start
Childhood friends Callie and Petra go missing one morning sparking an investigation into their disappearance. Read more
Published 2 months ago by F Keegan
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Sixpence Story!!!
I loved it...each chapter written from the different characters perspective! Based on every parent's nightmare... two girls go missing overnight, one a selective mute... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Erika Jayne Sissons
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps you guessing till the very end
Such a great story, heartbreaking at times but with so many twists and full of surprises I really couldn't put it down until the last page. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Marian
5.0 out of 5 stars Second Heather Gudenkauf book read and enjoyed
As good as One Breath Away Brilliant want more of the same calibre I like the method of titling each chapter with a name.
Published 3 months ago by stephen taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars another good book club choice ladies
I enjoyed this book lots of intrigue and twists! A good choice ladies well done not my usual style but a nice read
Published 4 months ago by echp1
4.0 out of 5 stars great book quick read
I enjoyed this fast paced book. It is written in the first person from the perspective of each of the main 5,or so, characters
Published 6 months ago by ArtyTea
5.0 out of 5 stars wow
This is addictive! I should be sleeping right now as I need to get up early for work but I HAD to finish this book! Loved it!
Published 6 months ago by Kel A
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
This book had me gripped from the start and I could not put the book down. I have now reed all three of Heather Gudenkauf books and this was by far my favourite. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mrs J Cannell
3.0 out of 5 stars Good to discuss among friends!
I quite enjoyed this book - written in the individual voices of the people involved in the narrative gave the plot it a more direct impact- the reason I read the book initially... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lesley Goldmann
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