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Weight of Silence - Heather Gudenkauf
Member Name: bluejules
Weight of Silence - Heather Gudenkauf
Advantages: fast paced, great read
Disadvantages: some characters not explored much
I saw this book in Asda in the 3 for £10 range and was initially drawn to it as the story contains a girl with selective mutism. Being a student speech therapist this particularly interested me so I decided to buy it and give it a go.
Calli and Petra are best friends. They are both 7 years old, are neighbours and attend the same school. Calli hasn't spoken a single word since she was 4 years old, silenced by a tradegy at home. Petra and Calli are soul mates and she seems to know what Calli is thinking so she speaks on her behalf.
One morning Petra's parent's wake up to find their daughter is not in her bed, and Calli has also gone missing. Both families are now bound by the question of what has happened to their children...
~ My thoughts ~
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and once I started it I could hardly put it down. The book is written from several points of view, which I found to be slightly confusing at first as I had to concentrate on who I was actually reading about but after a few chapters I felt I got to know the characters better and I loved the way the narration changed between characters. Most of the chapters are short and are written in first person, present tense (apart from that of one character which is written in 3rd person, past tense). I liked the short chapters as I felt it made the story fast paced and moved it along nicely. Although, I think sometimes some of the chapters were a bit too short and not developed enough.
The whole book covers a 24 hour period but we also learn about events and people from the past through the characters telling the story. This allows the reader to learn about the people in the story as well as find out (what turns out to be) important information.
I think the book is well written and easy to follow. The different perspectives allow us to see the story from different sides, and to see what is happening in more than one place at the same time. Even though the chapters are relatively short I still felt that the characters were well developed and I both sympathised and empathised with them (at different points in the book).
The story is told from the points of view of Antonia, (Calli's mother), Calli, Petra, Petra's father Martin, and Deputy Sheriff Louis (Antonia's childhood sweetheart). I felt like I got to know all of these characters, as well as some of the other characters that were written about from these points of view (Petra's mother, Fielda, and Calli's father Griff, as well as some other characters, including the school counsellor and family friends).
One of the main themes of the book is friendship; between Calli and Petra, and Calli and Ben. Other obvious themes are that of missing children, and Calli's selective mutism. Domestic violence is another aspect of the book that is important and it runs alongside the main storyline.
There are a number of unpleasant themes in the book (mainly that of two children going missing) and although I felt sad at times, it is so beautifully written that I smiled lots of times throughout the book too. There are stories and tales from the past which help us to learn about the characters and their lives in more detail.
The parents of both children begin to blame each other for the disappearance of their daughters, causing an uneasy relationship between them. Are they looking in the correct place for the cause of their missing daughters? Are they right to blame each other? Or should they be pointing their blame elsewhere.
There are a number of twists and turns within the book and I didn't expect the ending that occurred. Once I finished reading the book I realised that there were elements of it which had given clues along the way but I did not pick up on these until they were drawn together towards the end of the book. I read some sections back and I realise now why I believed what I did, and I think it was cleverly written.
The epilogue is written 6 years after the events surrounding the disappearance of the girls. It is written from the point of view of one character but we learn about more than this one person and it finished the book of well.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and think it's a very good debut novel. I would recommend it as it is fast paced, beautifully written with enough suspense to keep you reading til the end.
* Paperback: 416 pages
* Publisher: Mira Books (16 April 2010)
* ISBN-10: 0778303691
Available on amazon from £1.64
Thanks for reading!
Summary: A great read!