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2009

The Weight of Silence – Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of Silence is the final book in the TV Book Club’s Summer Reads selection and as I’m drawn to books about families in crisis I decided to give it a try.

The book follows two families who wake one morning to discover that their 7-year-old daughters have disappeared. A frantic hunt for them begins with suspicion for their disappearance thrown on numerous people throughout the story.

The book was fast paced and made up almost entirely of dialogue – this combined with the fact that the book was narrated by six different people meant that I felt I was just skimming the surface, never really getting to know any of the individual characters or the motivations for their actions. I was dragged along by the action, forced to turn the page by the continual end-of-chapter cliff hangers, but never felt any emotional connection to the characters.

There were some tender moments and I especially liked this paragraph 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 decision 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.

But these moments of genius were rare and I ended the book feeling a bit disappointed. The resolution to the mystery of the girls’ disappearance wasn’t particularly original or surprising and I felt that certain plot points were a bit dubious.

Overall this was a light, entertaining read, but I don’t expect to remember much about it next year.

 

Opinion seems to be divided:

….a gripping, suspenseful novel which the reader will find unputdownable. Lovely Treez Reads

I do think that the book could have done with a tad more spit and polishThe Book Whisperer

It’s a book that could dredge up emotions and encourage conversations that need to take place. Word Lily

 …compelling plot and unique structure, but lacks some depth when it comes to the central relationship of the story. Sophisticated Dorkiness

34 replies on “The Weight of Silence – Heather Gudenkauf”

I was excited about The Weight of Silence, but I have read several reviews now that didn’t think it lived up to their expectations. I’m sorry that you found the same.

Iris, Opinion does seem to be divided on this one – I guess it depends how much you enjoy fast paced, lighter reads. I’m afraid I need the plot to be very clever if there isn’t emotional depth.

Carrie, That quote was the only part of the book that I read more than one and then lingered over. It is so true and I think a lot of people should think about that paragraph very carefully ;-)

This was one of the book clubs selection that didnt appeal (the ones that did are the Legacy, Stones fall, The help and The devils acre) so in a way im glad my instinct on this one was right, but its a shame you didnt enjoy it

Jessica, I plan to read The Legacy at some point as I have heard wonderful things about it. Stone’s Fall and The Help were both fantastic. I’m undecided about The Devils Acre – I’ll have to wait until the show next week!

I was disappointed in this too, I didn’t think it really hung together properly and the wife’s doormat like acceptance of her husband’s drunkeness really began to annoy me, I simply didn’t find it credible.

Joanna, It is good to know you agree with me. I think all the characters were a bit one dimensional and lacking realism. At least it was a quick, page turner. I would have been very annoyed if the book had been slower!

I’m disappointed to read your review. I had high hopes for this one but it doesn’t really sound like the sort of thing that I need to take the time to read. It sounds like it had a lot of promise. I hate when that happens!

Too bad it didn’t quite do it for you. I remember thinking it was a good mystery and an interesting story but not a favorite. I’m glad there were some rare great moments in it for you at least!

Amy, I found it all a bit average. I was quite surprised to find that one paragraph that stuck with me. It shows the author does have a talent. Perhaps her future books will be more inspired?

I was really into this book when I read it — the plot kept me really interested the whole time — but like I said in my review, felt like the characters lacked a little bit of something. I think you’re totally right that all the dialogue and plot is what keeps it going.

I felt this book got off to a slightly slow start, but as soon as I was into the story I was absolutely flying through it, and couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter to see what had happened to the two girls who had gone missing from their beds during the night.

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