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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 (748 )
5 star
 (236)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (20)
Overall
3.9 (603 )
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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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Story
4.1 (604 )
5 star
 (241)
4 star
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3 star
 (107)
2 star
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1 star
 (16)
Performance
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  •  
    Holly Midlothian, TX, United States 05-15-14
    Holly Midlothian, TX, United States 05-15-14 Member Since 2010

    FILMCHICK

    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    56
    9
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    0
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    Story
    "Great story, irritating protagonist."
    What made the experience of listening to The Weight of Silence the most enjoyable?

    The point of view and the various narrators was at first confusing. Once I figured out all the characters, it was very entertaining and a unique way of storytelling. I really enjoyed that there were several narrators and not just one. It was never difficult telling one character from the other.


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

    Ben challenging his father.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Callie described Antonia's playtime with she and Ben.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Ben defends Callie and Petra.


    Any additional comments?

    This was an entertaining book with an interesting story line and unique way of presentation. The narration was very enjoyable. However, Antonia's actions and words, and to a lesser degree, Martin and his wife's were extremely irritating. The three parents acted as though they didn't want to help with the search for their children by their lack of cooperation with the authorities. I found myself yelling and cursing out loud at Antonia's foolishness many times. Antonia's lifelong choices, her refusal to recognize and accept the root of the family's problems and her inactivity in protecting her children were more than I could bear many times. I do understand her actions were typical of a woman in a marriage such as hers, but the protection of her children should have overridden the lack of action and refusal to accept the reality of their situation.

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

    Vonne

    HELPFUL VOTES
    68
    ratings
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    21
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    6
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    Story
    "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
    18
    ratings
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    20
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 06-08-14
    Marjorie Santa Rosa, CA, United States 06-08-14 Member Since 2015

    I enjoy literary fiction with character depth and psychological exploration. I am in my 50s, work in psychology, and love the outdoors.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    80
    ratings
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    177
    52
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    6
    19
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    Catherine J. Pondozzi Laurel, Maryland 07-14-14
    Catherine J. Pondozzi Laurel, Maryland 07-14-14 Member Since 2013

    I am someone who enjoys audible books very much now that they exist. As a young student (real young) I can remember a teacher telling me how books can transport people to different places & open up a whole new world. This is how listening to audible books make me feel. Now if I can just stop falling asleep while listening to them at night I would be fine. Ha ha

    HELPFUL VOTES
    150
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    84
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    "Good book, but"
    Would you listen to The Weight of Silence again? Why?

    No, becasue I rarely listen to books twice


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    It was easy to guess when given the choice


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    It was pretty good


    Any additional comments?

    I thought this book touched upon subjects that were difficult for people to hear, like domeatic violence, poor parenting, hidden insecurities, murder of children. And for these reasons made it less enjoyable for me.

    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!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    558
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    63
    16
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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
    1150
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    171
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    Overall
    "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.

    7 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 09-19-14
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 09-19-14 Member Since 2015

    I love books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    507
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    422
    285
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    "good debut novel"

    First time author, debut novel for this author. I'm not sure why I thought this but it seemed this author's books were going to be of the good two shoes kind of books, maybe due to the titles of her books. The summary seemed interesting about two little girls that were taken from their homes in small town Iowa. Whatever i was thinking I was pleasantly surprised as the book was hard hitting right from the start and, yes, there were two little girls at the center of the story but it wasn't about innocence at all, quite the opposite. It was one of those books where you kept thinking about, wanting to get back to it and in the end I just sat down and finished it. One thing that drew me to this author is that she is a graduate of the University of Iowa as am I. I will for sure choose a second book from her.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
    146
    ratings
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    246
    245
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    34
    2
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    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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