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Review – The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

weight of silence

The Weight of Silence
by Heather Gudenkauf
373 pages
Published July 28, 2009

In The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf, Calli, a seven-year-old with selective mutism, and her friend and neighbor, Petra, who is also Calli’s voice, go missing on the same night. Calli’s mother, Antonia, is married to a drunk, abusive husband, and has a history with the sheriff who is investigating the disappearance. Petra’s father, Martin, is determined to find the girls, and he is convinced that it was Calli’s father who took both of the girls.

The story is told in alternating viewpoints from Antonia, Martin, Calli, Petra, Deputy Sheriff Louis, and Ben, Calli’s brother. Heather Gudenkauf utilizes this method well and is able to dispense the story and history of everyone involved. Sometimes when you have this many characters, it becomes a bit cumbersome. All the characters were handled deftly, as their history and the current situation was doled out. The author has a great writing style that tells a story very simply, but very well. I could picture everything, and the situations with Calli and her dad left me with adrenaline pumping through my body.

Heather Gudenkauf does an amazing job of ratcheting up the suspense in the first chapter and keeping you on the edge of your seat all the way through to the end. I would have read this book in one sitting if I’d had enough time, but unfortunately my day job got in the way of my reading. It’s really a race against time as the families and sheriff try to find the girls, hoping they haven’t been taken by the same person who took and killed a little girl two years ago.

Calli and Petra have a really sweet relationship. Petra met Calli after she’d already gone mute, and still she befriended her. Petra’s disappearance and her absence as a narrator add to an already tense situation.

Switching topics slightly, there is a passage that I wanted to share with you, more because of what it talks about than because it shows the authors writing. But I think the author makes a great point and since I agree, I’ll share it with you. πŸ™‚

Antonia’s mom is talking to Antonia about marriage:

People say that being a mother is the most important job you will ever have. And it is very important. But it is even more important, I believe, to be a wife, a good wife….I don’t mean you have to be a floor mat. That not what I mean at all. I mean, who you choose to walk with through life will be the most important decsion that you will ever, ever make. You will have your children and you will love them because they are yours and because they will be wonderful….But who you marry is a choice. The man you choose should make you happy, encourage you in following your dreams, big ones and little ones.”

I know I haven’t done the book justice. So please just believe me when I say I loved this book and will be passing it around to everyone in my book club.

Rating: 95 out of 100

You can buy The Weight of Silence at a discount! Use the coupon code SILENCE10 at for tlc logo resized10% off of The Weight of Silence, and it’s effective augΒ  1 – sept 15 at eHQ for print or digital.

Make sure you check out Heather Gudenkauf’s website.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. Check out the rest of the tour stops for The Weight of Silence.

Other reviews:

Fizzy Thoughts

Book, Line, and Sinker

Virtual Wordsmith

| Tags: , , 18 comments »

18 Responses to “Review – The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf”

  1. Nicole

    Sounds like you got another good one, that’s thought provoking and has you thinking about marriage. I love those books that end up being relevant to my life- that have that passage or two that make me think or that validate a view that I have held. Books are often more eloquent than I can be. I have actually seen this one around and have been contemplating buying it, but have held out because I have way too much stuff that I have to read. Way too much.


  2. Kathy

    Wow, but this one sounds good! Maybe I can get to it soon.


  3. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    I saw this in the bookstore and passed it up for The Art of Racing in the Rain, but maybe I will have to head back to the bookstore when I have cash and get this one too!


  4. Heather Gudenkauf

    Thank you, thank you for the kind words about The Weight of Silence! I was so pleased to see the excerpt between Antonia and her mother included in the review. While not a major focus of the novel, the relationship between Antonia and her mother greatly impacts the choices Antonia makes.
    Likewise, my own mother has significantly influenced me and the decisions I make in life. My mother is able to gently share her life experiences and insights in a way that is at once thought-provoking and reassuring.
    Whenever I came home from school, hurt by a biting comment from a classmate or saddened by a snub from a friend my mom would say, “You never know what someone is going through.” She would go on to explain that we can never really know what a person is experiencing in their day to day lives – a parent’s messy divorce, financial problems, a chaotic home life – and because of this they may take their hurt, pain and frustration out on others. “Be kind to everyone,” she would repeat, “you never know what they are going through.”
    I now find myself saying this same thing to my own children and repeat it silently to myself when I encounter someone who is rude or insensitive. As always, we should listen to our mothers – they really do know what they are talking about!


  5. Jennifer

    This is the second review I’ve read on this book and it just makes me want to get my hands on it even more. I love the passage that you shared. Thanks for the wonderful review!


  6. diane


    Glad you enjoyed this one. I just received it from a PBSwap member, so I am excited about reading it soon. Thanks for the great review.


  7. Stacy

    I love the quote you included about marriage. How true it is!
    Sounds like a winner to me.


  8. zibilee

    This looks like a great and thought provoking book. I will have to see if my bookshop has it in stock. Great review, it seems you were very taken with this book!


  9. Michelle

    I love that quote you posted. People always look at me funny when I say that my relationship with my husband takes precedence over everything else. But to me, that’s the one that takes work and effort to keep things on an even keel. I love and would die for my kids, but there are times where I would not necessarily do that for my husband (catch me on the wrong day…). So, to me, that is the one that requires more effort for me to want to get to that point, where I would die for him if necessary. It’s not necessarily a popular opinion about priorities of relationships, but it works for me. And it has definitely made me interested in this book. Thanks for the review!


  10. Staci

    I’ve got a copy of this one and now I’m more inspired than ever to get to reading it!!!


  11. Melissa B.

    I will check this out. The shooter at VA Tech was diagnosed with selective mutism. I’m sorry he didn’t have someone to speak for him, to avert this tragedy. One of my students was a Tech victim.


  12. Lisa

    I just added this to my tbr list this week. Now I’m thinking I need to use the B&N coupon I got yesterday to pick it up right away!


  13. Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

    I have a review of this book coming up next week, and I still haven’t decided exactly what to say. I agree with you on so many of your points — I thought the altered narration worked really well and I never felt like I lost track of who was speaking, something a think is a feat. Anyway, I better stop so I have things to add to the reviews πŸ™‚


  14. Steph

    I enjoyed your intriguing review. πŸ™‚ I’m linking to this post at my blog.


  15. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf « Word Lily

    […] reviews: Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’? Book, Line, and Sinker Peeking Between the Pages 3 R’s Blog Redlady’s Reading Room […]

  16. Melissa- Shhh I'm Reading

    I hadn’t heard of this one until it started appearing on blogs, but it’s been added to my list now.


  17. Nancy L

    I’ve had this book in my library for a few years and never read it. My mother a suspense novel lover read it first and loved it. I didn’t. I knew Lucky Thompson took Petra and hurt her long, long before the book reveals him. There was very little in physical description of the characters so I never felt a connection with any of them; except Calli, but for other reasons. I can’t imagine that if my daughter was missing that I’d be day dreaming about my old boyfriend or him, me. That part just got boring; and I felt no connection, and it dragged out,severely lacked descriptive writing that I just felt like skipping ahead to confirm that I was right about Lucky. Some writing was good, but too fairy tale-ish for me- or daytime drama shows.
    I don’t recommend this book.


  18. lola

    I’m reading it now…i could skip a couple of the parsgraphs on each chatacter especially when it seems like filler but so far its decent


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