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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 (882 )
5 star
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3.9 (724 )
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4.1 (725 )
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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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  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 09-19-14
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 09-19-14 Member Since 2013

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Inside Calli's Silence . . . I get it"

    This book was chillingly familiar to me . . . I'm the child of an alcoholic . . . the woods and the river were my refuge, my peace, my place. I totally get it. I never had an older brother to protect me and I was never mute. I was the oldest child, and I was my own parent, just like Ben, Calli's older brother had to be. I listened with terror as Griff, Calli's dad took her off into the woods the morning he should have gone fishing. And then my terror escalated as Petra, looking out her window and seeing familiar faces followed. Heather Gudenkauf is an excellent writer, giving us the back story of Petra's parents, and of Antonia's childhood with her best friend, Lou who she fell in love with. Not all alcoholics have a mean and abusive heart, but Griff did, and unfortunately it does seem that most wives choose to placate them as Antonia did, at the detriment of herself and her children. There are many, many layers to this story, and a lot to think about. I, for one, am glad that Heather Gudenkauf wrote it, and I feel sure that beyond being an excellent book, it will be a healing balm to lots of children and families of alcoholics.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvonne 05-13-14
    Yvonne 05-13-14

    Vonne

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't stop listening!"
    Where does The Weight of Silence rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is at the top of the list. Loved the way the story unfolds. Cant wait for more from Gudenkauf!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Ben because he wanted nothing more than to be the protector of his little sister and mother.


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

    Couldn't pick one. All narrators were top notch in my book! Each kept me engaged in the story.


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth a credit! Wonderful listen/read!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mollie United States 03-20-13
    Mollie United States 03-20-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Waiting on Weight"
    What did you love best about The Weight of Silence?

    I enjoyed the story, and I couldn't wait to find out how it would turn out.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed the performance.


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

    The different voices and view points.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Weight of Silence and why?

    Callie because she is the central character.


    Any additional comments?

    I felt like it took too long to get the girls "found."

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vickie Pulaski, VA, United States 09-22-11
    Vickie Pulaski, VA, United States 09-22-11
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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 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 06-08-14
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 06-08-14 Member Since 2015

    Life's good when I am listening to a great book.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If Only I Could, I Would Give it 3.8"

    This book comes ever so close to being four stars but just barely misses the mark. I did enjoy the listen all the way through except that Griff, the father of Calli, is an unlikeable, ignorant, mean man with zero redeeming qualities presented in his character. Thus, I could not stop feeling angst about why the wife and mother of his children (Antonia) could not break out of the cycle of violence. She was presented as a good mother who was intelligent, thoughtful and beautiful but she tolerated his abuse and failed to protect and understand her children. The story's credibility was compromised because of this but, then again, that is the oppression of silence. I found the premise of Calli's selective mutism to be credible. The disappearance of the girls was well developed and exciting. The author also created an interesting twist as she had the two families coping together with the disappearance of their daughters. The narration of this book was well done but, again, Griff is such a creep and sounds like such a creep, I couldn't get past it. If the author's intention is to make the reader hate Griff, she did a great job. Maybe you better read this book yourself and see what you think.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Booklover 06-25-14
    Booklover 06-25-14
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    "Overwritten and Annoying"

    Overly descriptive and unnecessarily detailed. Calli's mother can't just give her hot chocolate, it must be "steaming hot chocolate with white, fluffy marshmallows". She can't leave her hiding place; it must be her "twiggy den", and "footfalls" are on "spongy earth" and "lacey ferns" Her father's voice "hisses accross the delicate crevices of her ears". The reminescenses of the children are too cute and maudlin by far. I found the narration quite irritating. Calli's narrator was all breathy and earnest. Ben, who is twelve, has observations like the silence of the woods "gave nothing back". Yeah, I know a lot of twelve year olds who'd say that to themselves. It was also weird that while all the other characters are written in the first person, Calli's part is written in the third. Why? I stopped listening so I can't comment on the plot.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 05-31-14
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 05-31-14 Member Since 2012

    Enjoying one good listen after the next!

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    "An Unsettling, Engrossing Family/Community Drama"

    I downloaded and started this book, stopped for lack of interest and removed it from my iPhone. A week later, because I couldn't quite get it out of my mind, reloaded it and began to listen again. So glad I did. It was worth the time, even though this is a somewhat horrendous family drama that consumes a small community and is a story that makes you hurt while listening.

    A true love left unfulfilled, a child's selective mutism, an alcoholic parent, and domestic violence make for a good deal of gloom and drama. Yet there are amazing bright, wonderful parts of the book, especially the relationship between two little six year old girls and the way in which brother Ben becomes a young hero in more ways than one.

    I rather liked the narrations -- each reader giving voice to a different character. All seemed very appropriate, except Ben's voice could have/should have been a bit more adolescent.

    The prologue of this story wraps things up with a perfect bow -- almost too perfectly I think. Most events of this type don't have happy endings across the board for all those involved. Some wounds simply don't heal without deep, enduring scars and real life is quite a bit more complicated than this author conceived.

    Nevertheless, a good read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam Castletown, Australia 04-09-10
    Pam Castletown, Australia 04-09-10 Member Since 2008
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    "A good listen"

    The author certainly held my attention. The story moved forward well keeping me in suspence and anticipation. The narrators were excellant. I have to admit that I guessed who the culprit was well before the end but I enjoyed the story.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-14-10
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-14-10 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring"

    I found this book to be boring and not at all original. I would not waste my credits. It has a great premise but the author does not deliver in my opinion.

    8 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry Waynesville, NC, United States 07-19-15
    Terry Waynesville, NC, United States 07-19-15 Member Since 2013

    TerryRose

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    "Compelling, but weird."

    I am very conflicted about this book. I finished it two days ago and still can't figure out how to review it.

    Calli Clark, a selective mute child, and Petra Gregory, her best friend, go missing the same morning. As the book is told in a roundabout by six different characters, you know where the girls are -- in the beginning. Antonia, Calli's mother; Martin, Petra's father; Deputy Sheriff Lewis, Antonia's high school boyfriend; Ben, Calli's brother; Calli, and Petra. You find that Calli has been dragged into the woods by her alcoholic father in a rage. Petra has followed someone into the woods.

    I really liked that a different reader read each part. That helped to give the book some substance. Unfortunately, the writer did not. The central theme is silence. Calli is mute by choice, although no reason is given. Although you'd have to be an idiot not to figure out why. But everyone in the Clark family is keeping secrets. So there is more silence than just Calli. Petra is Calli's "voice." Her family is pretty normal. If they have secrets, I never found them.

    The investigation into the two girls' disappearance is just sad. Badly handled by the police and the FBI. Not so much bumbling as inattentive to the point of disinterest in the welfare of the two girls. And the ultimate solving of the mystery is flat. No way for the reader to solve it.

    So why then, was I compelled to finish this book? I suspect because I listened to it rather than reading it. I really did enjoy the multiple voices. I don't I would have finished it in print. Oh well, I'm still conflicted about this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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