Is Golden ~ Book Review of ‘The Weight of Silence’ by Heather Gudenkauf

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on April 21, 2013 0 Comments

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf is actually a tale of two girls; one has selective mutism and the other her best friend.  On an August morning both go missing in the woods near a small Iowa town.

Seven year old Calli Clark hasn’t spoken a word in three years.  The reason for her silence is a mystery but she has adapted to a lifestyle of quiet communication.  Thankfully, classmate Petra Gregory can understand her and helps her navigate life in school.  Petra is outgoing and makes friends easily unlike Calli.  Her father is a professor at a local college who married late in life but finds family life suits him well.  She is an only child living in a loving home.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, Calli has an older brother, an abusive father, and a sad mother who is just trying to make it day to day.

The story is told through different narratives including Calli, her brother, mother, Mr. Gregory and a deputy who at one time was Calli’s mother’s boyfriend.  Each perspective adds a bit more to the storyline and there are overlapping mysteries including the reasons Calli does not speak and why the girls are missing and if they are on their own or not.

Weight is better than the average missing child novel (a genre that appears to be growing) but it still suffers from inconsistencies within the plot.  First, the location of the story is described as a small town but within the action it is obvious that people don’t know each other, as in not recognizing neighbors, ergo not sounding very small townish.  Second, there is a feeling that the so-called experts put a priority on solving a possible crime over finding the children.  Readers will grind their teeth with the long interrogations of family members/witnesses/possible at the expensive of searching the woods where everyone thinks the children are located.  Thirdly, some of the secondary characters act unreasonable to the point they seem unrealistic such as when a wife who throws a tantrum because her deputy husband can’t come home pronto – you know, because there are two little girls missing.

Not a great book, but a decent one.  Once readers get past a certain point it becomes a page turner primarily because the most compelling part of the novel is why Callie (moppet is the word that best describes her) won’t speak.

I recommend, but it is a soft recommendation, The Weight of Silence if you like mysteries along with psychological meanings to book titles.

Happy reading!

Westerfield © 2013

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