Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review: The Weight Of Silence

A few weeks ago, I found myself on my own on a Saturday night with a husband out with the guys and two kids sleeping over grandma’s. My night consisted of ordering in sushi and wandering around Borders – by myself. Usually in a bookstore I have two kids on hand, both whining and asking for everything in sight, but on this night, it was just me. I was able to walk around the bookstore and look at all the books I wanted to look at. One of the books that caught my eye and went on my “to read” list was The Weight of Silence, written by a brand new author, Heather Gudenkauf. A few days later when I was asked by MomCentral to read the book and write a review, I immediately said yes.

The book opens from the perspective of Calli, a little girl with selective mutism that was brought on by a family tragedy years before. In the first chapter, Calli describes how upon waking up one morning knowing that her father is leaving for a fishing trip, she tries to him out because she doesn’t want to see him. We learn that Calli’s family is much happier when her father is away, mainly because he is an abusive alcoholic. Unfortunately, she has to go to the bathroom and although she tries to slip downstairs without being seen by her father, she is unsuccessful and he begins to berate her for not speaking, forcing her to walk with him into the woods behind their house, unbeknownst to anyone else in her family. Although the author hasn’t explained it, at this point, you can assume that her father had a lot to do with Calli’s selective mutism. The same morning, Calli’s best friend Petra’s parents awake to find her gone from her bed as well. Throughout the book, both families realize that their daughters are missing and it turns into a search for the two children, who are thought to have been abducted. The question is by whom – as I read through the book, my mind raced through many different scenarios, only to change as I read the next chapter.

Because each chapter in this book is told from a perspective of each of 7 different characters, you are able to see the story unfold from all of these different perspectives and learn the back stories as well. This changing of voice made the book a little bit difficult for me to read at first, but once I got involved with the story, it actually made the most sense that the author would have chosen to tell the story in this way. Each character was very developed and their histories were all intertwined – as the reader, you being to feel like each character is actually speaking to you, telling you about their lives, their secrets and their thoughts.

The Weight of Silence is definitely not a light read but absolutely a great book. It’s very thought provoking because it could be a story about any family living anywhere, right now. Being Heather Gudenkauf’s first novel, I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

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