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The Weight of Silence | [Heather Gudenkauf]

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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2009 Heather Gudenkauf; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

  • Edgar Award Finalist, Best First Novel, 2010

"Every so often you get really lucky, and a book comes along that just knocks your socks off: an absorbing, engrossing, suspenseful read that you just want to keep paging through, a novel that feels a lot like running downhill - fast and a little breathless - until it all winds down and wraps up. The Weight of Silence is exactly this kind of book.... Jodi Picoult has some serious competition in Heather Gudenkauf. [She is] an author to watch.” (Bookreporter.com)

"Deeply moving and exquisitely lyrical, this is a powerhouse of a debut novel. Heather Gudenkauf is one of those rare writers who can tell a tale with the skill of a poet while simultaneously cranking up the suspense until it's unbearable." (Tess Gerritsen)

"Gudenkauf moves the story forward at a fast clip and is adept at building tension. There's a particular darkness to her heartland, rife as it is with predators and the walking wounded, and her unsentimental take on the milieu manages to find some hope without being maudlin." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (719 )
5 star
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Overall
3.9 (578 )
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1 star
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Story
4.1 (580 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Sara 07-17-10
    Sara 07-17-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    45
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    "A jewel"

    I have a long commute, so I listen to MANY books. I often just glance through the descriptions and pick at random based on some little thing that caught my eye. This one was a jewel! I do not know how I discovered it, and can't remember why I picked it - but I am certainly glad that I did. It gives a new perspective on consequences of choices that we make in life - even the seemingly small and casual ones. The story of interwoven lives that unravel.....so much is sad but such a good listen.

    31 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wanda Verdel, NE, United States 07-01-11
    Wanda Verdel, NE, United States 07-01-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Great Listen"

    This was my second Heather Gudenkauf listen and I was not disappointed. I love the way she writes from the points of view from each character in her stories, and with different narrators for most of them it adds to making her books a great listen. The readers were cast very well with the exception of 12-year-old Ben, who had a more mature voice than his age represented. This does not take away from the books content however. Gudenkauf writes only the story, leaving out the fluff that some authors include, though you may not know it at first. Can't wait for her next book!

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 04-25-13
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 04-25-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Engrossing debut novel"
    What did you love best about The Weight of Silence?

    The story gripped you from the prologue and wouldn't let go. The characters, with the exception of Griff, were relatable and well-drawn. The narration was incredible; I wish all full-cast narrations were this well-done!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hard to decide. They all had qualities that I admired and related to, but the children are probably my favorites due to their innocence and desire to protect those they love.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is well worth the listening time. It does shift point of view from 1st to 3rd person, which is a little bit clunky and cumbersome, and Griff is too unlikeable to be taken seriously as a well-drawn character, but overall, this is a well-written suspenseful debut novel.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Val 10-02-13
    Val 10-02-13 Member Since 2008

    Mystery & Suspense

    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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    "Good story"
    Where does The Weight of Silence rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    On a scale of one to ten... this is about a six or seven. Depending on your interests the score could go up a notch higher or lower.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    The characters were interesting but some of the things that happened seemed a little far-fetched. The father was really off the deep edge but I guess there are people out there like that and wives that tolerate them.


    Any additional comments?

    This was a family drama. It had several suspenseful moments. I think everybody's heart goes out to two little missing girls, that premise is the entire meat and potatoes of the book.It was a good listen to fill the time. I think it's best compared to a Lifetime movie that has happy times and heart aches but by the end it wraps up in a pretty bow.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-04-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Breathless supense"

    The book begins with the disappearance of two young girls in the pre-dawn hours of a summer day. It ends with the consequences of silence, of choices both made and not made, that lead to misunderstandings with tragic results.

    Told in voices of five of the characters, the story evolves through the eyes of each: one of the missing children, her mother and brother, the father of the other little girl, and a deputy sheriff with a history intertwined with the one of the families. As the search for the children begins, each one slowly reveals the ghosts that haunt them and come to life on this one, terrifying day.

    Young Callie has not spoken a single word since one terrible day of violence when her father whispered something malevolent in her ear. It is her father who has dragged her into the woods in a fit of drunken belligerence, and it is Callie's voice we hear as we follow along helplessly, fearing for her as each moment passes. But, Petra's voice, except for one brief moment at the beginning, remains agonizingly silent. All we know is she is not with Callie and her father, and we fear all the more for her.

    Although Callie's silence is her choice not speak, it is the willful keeping of secrets and lies of omission by all the characters that culminate in the events that brings about the unbearable weight of silence of the book's title. In turn, we learn the secrets that Callie's mother, her brother Ben and Deputy Sheriff Loras carry with them through their thoughts of things not said, things not done, as each confronts the unfolding truths of the events. Petra's father battles his own demons as he confronts the possible loss of a daughter he who almost wasn't born.

    This is a book you won't want to put down. It crackles with suspense as we listen the voices whisper to themselves, and the story tumbles toward what can only be a heartbreaking end. But the ending is not the one we think we see coming and not all will find redemption.

    26 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 06-30-13
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 06-30-13 Member Since 2010

    I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fast Paced, Great Read"
    What made the experience of listening to The Weight of Silence the most enjoyable?

    This novel, from beginning to end, had me wanting to read without stopping.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite character was Ben. He was a young boy who exuded character. His father, Griff, worked on the pipeline in Alaska and was away from home for long stretches at a time. However, he was a mean alcoholic who was prone to anger. His family was always on guard because when he exploded, Griff was physically and mentally abusive to his wife,Toni and his children, Ben and Callie. Ben would distract his father when he was abusing Callie and would have his father take his unwarranted anger out on him. He didn't allow the taunts and jeers from his peers, relating to the the fact concerning the amount of time he spent with his, "retarded," sister, to make him fearful or ashamed. However, one time, while in the classroom, trying to solve a math problem at the blackboard, without success, he heard the jeers and turned and threw a stick of chalk that hit his nemesis squarely between the eyes. Ben was protective of Callie and enjoyed spending time with her, even though he was 5 years older than his sister who had not spoken for three years. The doctor's diagnosed Callie with the term, selective mutism, which began when she witnessed a tragedy and blamed herself. Ben proved time and time again that he would stand tall and become a young man with strength and character.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    My favorite scene occurred on the school playground that Callie attended. Her best friend, Petra, joined a group of girls playing jump rope. The girl's had to sing a jingle and invite another girl to jump in while the other jumped out. Callie, who was a selective mute, joined the girl's but when it was time to sing a jingle, she wouldn't speak. Petra came forward and sang the jingle for Callie and everyone was satisfied and continued to play jump rope.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes and I did listen to the book all in one sitting. I'm an insomniac, therefore, I was up until 5am and I finished listening to the book.


    Any additional comments?

    The novel, from the first page until the last page, held my interest. There wasn't that long and sometimes boring laying down the quilt work for the rest of the book. Although the subject matter of the novel proved disheartening, it proved a learning experience for me. The two main thrusts of the novel were an abusive husband and a pedophile. The tension throughout the novel kept me on my toes. The writing was smooth and easy to understand. The individual character's were well developed and I was able to follow the progress of the novel without difficulty. The narrator's did a 4 star performance, which contributed to the novel's clarity. The narrator can make or break a novel and these narrators were excellent. This novel used several narrator's for different character's instead of just one. Ben's voice did sound a bit older for a child of 12 but I definitely no difficulty picking out Ben's voice. There was very little use of foul language, which added substance to the story. I felt like a spider on the wall who listened and saw all of the action but was never seen. I will add this novel to my list of books to be reread. I encourage other audible listeners to choose this novel. The money used to purchase is well spent.

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane 04-01-11
    Diane 04-01-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "the weight of silence"

    excellent book--one of those you find yourself sitting in a parking lot just so you can finish the chapter you are listening to

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kaley MARION, OHIO, United States 11-05-12
    Kaley MARION, OHIO, United States 11-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Good Listen, good story line, and good narrator..."
    What made the experience of listening to The Weight of Silence the most enjoyable?

    The story line compelled me to keep listening.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Weight of Silence?

    When everything finally came together.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It gave personality to the book that words on a page alone cannot give.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Twists and turns beneath the cold rapids of the reality of youth.


    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vickie Pulaski, VA, United States 09-22-11
    Vickie Pulaski, VA, United States 09-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "WOW!"

    loved how this book was narrated. The story l\was developed so well in the voice of the characters! Could not put it aside.. I am no listening to second title These Things Hidden.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen FROSTBURG, MD, United States 05-23-14
    Ellen FROSTBURG, MD, United States 05-23-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you're a fan of predictable plots, go for it!"

    Where to begin? After listening to 20 minutes of this novel, the listener is able to chart out, in minute detail, everything that is to occur. Characters are all stick-figures: one dimensional, predictable. Narration fares no better. The female narrators read in such a saccharine manner that it is almost unbearable, while all the male readers sound like junior high school students reading aloud for the first time in front of their class. Nothing can save this novel. I bought it on the strength of the reviews and was very disappointed. The writing is so bad that in comparison it makes even a mediocre author like Jodi Picoult look like Dostoevsky. Stay away!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Velvett
    Ireland
    9/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent Gripping Story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Would recommend this well written well voiced story.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favourite?

    The actors gave depth to the seperate characters.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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