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The Weight of Silence cover art

The Weight of Silence

Written by: Heather Gudenkauf
Narrated by: Jim Colby,Eliza Foss,Cassandra Morris,Andy Paris,Therese Plummer,Tony Ward
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2009 Heather Gudenkauf (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

What the critics say

  • Edgar Award Finalist, Best First Novel, 2010

"Every so often you get really lucky, and a book comes along that just knocks your socks off: an absorbing, engrossing, suspenseful read that you just want to keep paging through, a novel that feels a lot like running downhill - fast and a little breathless - until it all winds down and wraps up. The Weight of Silence is exactly this kind of book.... Jodi Picoult has some serious competition in Heather Gudenkauf. [She is] an author to watch.” (Bookreporter.com)
"Deeply moving and exquisitely lyrical, this is a powerhouse of a debut novel. Heather Gudenkauf is one of those rare writers who can tell a tale with the skill of a poet while simultaneously cranking up the suspense until it's unbearable." (Tess Gerritsen)
"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." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about The Weight of Silence

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story if you can get passed the narration.

I struggled with this at first. it was very slow, and seemed to be just like any other book I had read this year. nothing stood out.
I was even tempted to return the books, but I'm happy I didn't.

it doesn't help the narrator's are very monotoned and show little to no emotion in their readings. (this being a very emotion book, I feel that really hindered the immersion of the story)

Once you get 2/3 of the way through the novel, the author definitely plays a game of keep-away with you.

Taking multiple chapters to finally disclose literally one word. (that's just one example that really stood out to me)
It was infuriating, and almost caused me to skip chapters, but then I realized the author had done what he set out to do: captivate my attention.

it's a great novel to listen to, I would recommend it.

just be aware the protagonist's mother, Antonia, is a horrible mother. she's not violent toward her children, but she allows far too much to happen to her children and is too much of a coward to interfere.

Out of all the characters in this novel, hers angered me the most.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Quite good overall!

I enjoyed this book! I found it exciting in places, emotional in places ... and predictable in places. Overall the narration was good.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Highly recommend

Very much enjoyed the storyline and the narrators of this book. I couldn’t put down and want to know what was happening next.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent story

This book was hard to stop listening to. Excellent performance by all readers . I recommend this book and author

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

I really enjoyed this audio book, more so with more than one narrator. It’s a must listen.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Listen

Heather G delivers again a great book !

the twist and turns was great !

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining Listen

The telling of the story is more interesting then uncovering of the "villian". It was a good listen and I found it to be the perfect length. There's alot going on that will keep you guessing.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Engrossing

Heather Gudenkauf weaves together a thought-provoking exploration of psyches - expounding on a theme of keeping secrets: the "Silence" in the title. The disappearance of two girls is used as a matrix around which the author reveals the inner conflicts of multiple characters (parents, ex-lovers, and the girls themselves). Despite pedestrian characters (these people frankly aren't that interesting) I found myself drawn into their worlds. The book is essentially a stereotypical Lifetime Movie script, but I have to admit I was captivated.
Gudenkauf's writing is competent, her dialogue is realistic, and her characterization skills are masterful. Less fortunately, the "Child Disappearance" plot is resolved predictably & unsatisfactorily - it's clearly just a device to drive the character development.. and the story structure is baffling - Gudenkauf writes for multiple characters in multiple timelines and from multiple perpectives: First Person, Second Person, Third Person Limited, Third Person Omniscient.. seemingly at random. The book isn't crafted very well.

Luckily, the reading cast (different readers for each character) are excellent. Diction, timbre, cadence, and tone are spot-on. Jim Colby, Tony Ward, Therese Plummer, Andy Paris, Eliza Ford, and Cassandra Morris also perform with exemplary emotiveness (you can hear the fear and panic in harried parents, for example).
Despite being best consumed at 1.15X (all of the cast read slightly too slow) - Recorded Books hired the right people for the project.

This book isn't in my wheelhouse (I'm not a big straight Drama fan), but it was offered on sale.. and it was worth the $4.95 CDN I paid for it. It rates 6.5 stars out of 10 - it merits a Credit if you're into personality exposition.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great read

Wonderful book, delves into each character, interesting narration. The one immense problem I had with this book is the mother’s character. A weakling, an abused woman so disconnected from real life, that you want to shake her into action ! As a mother, she sucks big time ! Still, the other characters make up for her ineptitude !

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A disappointment

The first third of this book was initially intriguing. Good storyline, well written. Then it seemed to fall off a cliff. it was replaced with a childish, cloying narrative that went nowhere. For the first time ever, I could not not finish the book. I am sorry to say, I cannot recommend this book.

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