Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Review - The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Title: The Weight of Silence 
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Year: 2009
Page: 373
Genre: Fiction

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Maybe
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
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.

First Sentence:
Louis and I see you nearly at the same time.  

Why did I pick this book?
I am in a bit of a reading rut, Tea Time with Marce highly recommended this book (see her review here) so I thought I'd give it a go. Even though we don't always share the same views on books, I respect her opinions!  

My thoughts:
  • I enjoyed books written with multiple narratives, as you get to know each character a bit better, since not all see things the same way. This book was written from these characters' perspectives: Callie (7 years old "selective mute" girl), Callie's mum Antonia, Callie's 12 years old brother Ben, Callie's best friend Petra, Callie's best friend's dad Martin and The Deputy Sheriff Louis. The interesting writing technique was that Callie was written from a 3rd person perspective, Ben's was a combination of 1st and 2nd (to Callie), while the rest was written in in 1st.
  • I have to say though the voices aren't very distinctive. I have to rely on the character's name at the beginning of each chapter to see who was speaking. I would have thought that at least the voices from the children and the adult would differ more. Well, all characters probably should have their distinct voice.
  • I also wonder if Petra's perspective was necessary. There were only maybe 2 or 3 chapters? And they were short and didn't add a lot to the story.
  • The plot was a bit predictable though, unfortunately, and it wasn't too hard to figure out why Callie stopped speaking
  • I did like the children in the book - I liked Callie and Petra's friendship, and the brother-sister relationship between Ben and Callie. 
  • I have to say I don't like Antonia - I also don't quite understand her decisions on multiple issues. I get that not all characters have to be perfect, but it just gets frustrating sometimes
  • I don't get why authors (not just this one) used similar names for characters (mostly minor ones) in the same books, where there are plenty of names out there? This is the 3rd time in the past few books. In this book, it is Callie's dad's 2 friends: Roger Hogan and Logan Roper
  • Again, this is the 3rd time in some recent books - what is the point of the prologue when it gives away too much of the plot? 
  • Not a bad read, but some room for improvement

    Rating: 3 Stars

    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!

    100+ Reading


    1. I haven't read this but I can really relate to your criticisms. I just hate plot giveaways! If it's not the prologue it's the publisher's blurb. Argh! And the naming issue bugs me as well - it's either weird names, or similar names, or even, in some books, the same names! Argh!

    2. I am glad you gave this one a try and thanks for the mention. You are one of my trusted bloggers so nice to know you respect my opinion also. :-)

      I really enjoyed this one, it actually made me realise how much I enjoy multiple narratives.

      The problem you had with this one I had with her new one.

      The name issue bugs me at times also, especially when authors use the same initials as their own, I have had issues with did I like the character or the author, lol.

      Also, I don't remember the prologue in this one but agree that sometimes they give away to much.

      Hope you get out of your reading rut, those are not so nice.

    3. Christa, have you read the Memoir - Keeping the Feast by Paula Butturini? I received it from a blogger and just read another great review. I think you will enjoy.

      I have put it on my list for next year, I am keeping a list of the memoirs I want to read.

    4. @rhapsodyinbooks - I don't like plot giveaways either, it just ruined the surprises (and that's what I like most about reading - the surprises and twists that I am not creative enough to dream of!). I appreciate reviews that stated clearly that it may contain spoilers. Sometimes I do specifically search for reviews WITH spoilers - because I just wanted to find out what happened in the book, without having to read it lol (like Book 2 to 4 of Twilight :)

      @Marce - I like that even though we have different opinions, that you can articulate what you do or don't like, and I find myself sometime nodding to what you have to say even though I may like it differently than you do. You definitely raised some points I didn't think about! Guess if this author has the same issues with her new book, then I may skip that. If you like multiple narratives, there are a couple I remember I read - they aren't perfect, but at least they made an impression enough that I still remember the plot somewhat :) Testimony by Anita Shreve and The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle (though the prologue gives thing away in this one too, if I remember right. So may skip that chapter lol :) I do have Keeping the Feast by Paula Butturini on my TBR list (growing longer and longer!) It does sound like something I'd enjoy - travel and food :) Thanks for thinking of me!

    5. And this is why we respect each other. ;-)

      I read Testimony before or after Weight of Silence and really enjoyed that one also. I will look up the other.

    6. I wasn't a big fan of this one either. I agree with all the points you make (apart from the similar names thing - that didn't bother me) I thought the plot was too simple and predictible. It was too fast paced and I thought the characters lacked depth. It was all a bit frustrating :-(

    7. @Marce - I thought Testimony was quite well done. I still remember bits and pieces of it and that said something since I forget most books after I read them!

      @farmlanebooks - I guess I was more curious about the similar names than being totally frustrated by them - just why the authors picked the names they did when there are so many different names? I guess it brought back memories of a book on movie casting I read a couple of years back - if the lead is blond, then the side kick cannot be blond (or vice versa), to create less confusion. So I guess that carried over to names for me. I hear you that even though I generally prefer plot-driven books over character-driven books, I need the characters to be somewhat developed so I could at least get to know them a little. Hence I don't generally like short stories...