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The Weight of Silence Paperback – July 28, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 477 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gudenkauf's tightly plotted debut packs a lot of unsavory doings into a few unfortunate summer days in Willow Creek, Iowa. Seven-year-old Calli Clark hasn't spoken a word in the three years since a particularly nasty run-in with her violent, wife-beating father, Griff. During a bender, Griff suddenly decides to haul his mute daughter into the nearby forest, where they get lost. At the same time, Calli's best friend Petra goes missing, and a manhunt is launched, led by deputy sheriff Loras Louis, who still carries a torch for Calli's mother. 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. (Aug.)
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"The Weight of Silence is a tense and profoundly emotional story of a parent's worst nightmare, told with compassion and honesty. Heather Gudenkauf skillfully weaves an explosive tale of suspense and ultimately, the healing power of love."

- #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs

"Deeply moving and exquisitely lyrical, this is a powerhouse of a debut novel."

-New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen on The Weight of Silence

"Beautifully written, compassionately told, and relentlessly suspenseful."

-New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain on The Weight of Silence

"Gudenkauf's scintillating second suspense novel...slowly and expertly reveals the truth in a tale so chillingly real, it could have come from the latest headlines."

-Publishers Weekly on These Things Hidden, starred review

"One Breath Away takes the reader on an electrifying ride that is, by the end, both terrifying and satisfying. I dare you to forget it."

- New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Flock

"I have burns on my fingers from turning the pages too fast. Don't miss it. This is her best yet!"

-New York Times bestselling author Lesley Kagen on One Breath Away

"Gudenkauf...keep[s] the tension high and the reader glued to the pages."

-Publishers Weekly on One Breath Away


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 077832740X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778327400
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (477 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Karen Ferrero on September 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
The story line of this novel was good and I think the author had a good idea upon which to formulate a story. There were many smaller themes--small town life, childhood friendship, first loves, alcoholism and its effect on a family, etc. This story was told in pieces--both in present and in the past, recalled in the speaker's memories. I thought that was a fine vehicle to deliver this story and I also thought it interesting in whose voices the author chose to tell the story, and whose were not chosen. I will say, too, that I raced through this novel--anxious to find out what happened to the two little girls and who was ultimately responsible.

But beyond that, there were several shortcomings in the book, most of which have already been covered here by other reviewers.
The writing is very amateurish. I don't expect everything I read to be a literary work of art and I don't seek that out either. But the writing here was very basic and undeveloped. I don't even agree with the reviewer that said it is more of a Young Adult read, just because of the simplistic writing style. I also enjoy YA reads from time to time and it is not simpler and inexperienced writing that makes a book YA, and to say that insults those authors. In my opinion, this author is simply inexperienced.

The other thing that really annoyed me about this book is the viewpoints and different voices. I appreciate that the author took this on, but what bothered me is that each one did not really have their own voice at all. They each created their own stories, sure. But their language and vocabularies did not vary, despite the range in ages (from 7 years old to 57 years old!) or their education level (first grader up to a college professor / department head)!
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Format: Paperback
This book strikes me as the work of a beginning author. The writing is amateurish, and the characters are extremely under-developed. The narrator switches between several main characters, but as one reviewer commented, all of their voices blend into one indistinct blur. Calli, the main character, has none of the little-girl-charm that keeps readers glued. Just because she doesn't talk doesn't mean she shouldn't have a personality! Calli's dad, another abusive-angry-father stereotype (pretty easy to pull off), has an inconsistent character. He is not mean enough to be feared by readers, yet he definitely doesn't earn the readers' sympathy. His actions don't make a whit of sense throughout the story.

The plot isn't even worthy of criticism because it is practically nonexistent. Nothing interesting happens in this story. The author probably aimed for the genre of psychological thriller, but this falls way short of the mark. The novel lacks suspense and the intended plot twists are choppy and don't achieve the effect they should. After finishing the book, my first reaction was "that's it?" which is always a bad sign. The ending brought no real closure to this unnerving story, there were way too many strings left untied. And the biggg secret that leaves Calli mute is a complete let-down (not surprisingly).
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Format: Paperback
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf is an absorbing novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. It is the story of Calli, a 7 year old girl with selective mutism and her best friend Petra who both are found missing in the middle of the night. The story that ensues is not one that I usually like to read as a mother as it can be heartwrenching to read stories related to abduction. I found that Ms. Gudenkauf focused on so much more than an "abduction" so please don't let that sway you from reading this book as it is truly about so much more. It focuses on family dynamics, the unconditional love and acceptance of childhoold friends and the power that holds in our relationships and secrets that are often left unspoken.

The Weight of Silence focuses on three families, Calli who is dragged into the woods behind her house by her drunken and abusive father in the early hours of the morning. Her mother Antonia, searches for her and gets support from the sheriff which was her childhood sweetheart. Calli's older brother Ben is determined to find Calli as he knows the woods that they have explored as children. Petra is an only child and has a special connection to Calli and she accepts Calli and often speaks for her. She goes missing after seeing someone familiar from her window in the middle of the night and follows them. We don't know as a reader if it is Calli and her father or someone else until the story unwinds. Petra's father Martin is determined to find his daughter and is driven by his emotion and almost destroys his own family. Sheriff Louis still has a fondness for Toni who married another man instead of waiting for him to finish college. Louis' own marriage unravels as this story unfolds.
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Format: Paperback
I was given the opportunity to read this book before its release and I have been telling everyone about it since. I found myself totally absorbed in the story and the characters. And like others, could not put it down. In fact I became so involved in the story that it felt like the search for the girls would stop if I didn't keep reading! The author did a great job of building the suspense, pulling me in and giving out just the right amount of information to keep me guessing. A "suspense" novel that truely is suspenseful.
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