Regular price: $24.49

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

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

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    782
  • 4 Stars
    653
  • 3 Stars
    310
  • 2 Stars
    87
  • 1 Stars
    39

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    845
  • 4 Stars
    504
  • 3 Stars
    207
  • 2 Stars
    48
  • 1 Stars
    37

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    667
  • 4 Stars
    578
  • 3 Stars
    286
  • 2 Stars
    70
  • 1 Stars
    40
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

102 of 105 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Holly
  • Midlothian, TX, United States
  • 05-15-14

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.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Laura
  • KINGWOOD, TX, United States
  • 04-22-15

Average suspense thriller

Any additional comments?

I almost stopped listening early on when the hints of child sexual abuse made me very uncomfortable. The subject matter is tastefully handled and I enjoyed the book overall, but it isn't one I would highly recommend -- the underlying themes were disturbing to me.

36 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 09-19-14

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.

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wanda
  • Verdel, NE, United States
  • 07-01-11

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!

55 of 59 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Daryl
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 04-25-13

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.

33 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

44 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • W.P.
  • Watermill, NY, United States
  • 06-07-15

Story: Okay. Writing: God-Awful.

What would have made The Weight of Silence better?

Better writing. Less predictable, two-dimensional characters. Less sentences like this: "In an instant I have you in my arms and I am crying. Tears dropping many emotions, mostly thankfulness and relief, but tears of sorrow mixed in." Are you kidding me!?

Who was your favorite character and why?

Definitely not Antonya.

Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrators?

Sure.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment about the quality of the writing.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

28 of 33 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Velvett
  • 09-06-14

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rozanne
  • 11-09-17

The Weight of Silence

Intense, Chilling, Suspenseful & Sad. Lots of twists & turns that keep you guessing until the end.
I really liked the multiple narrators