The Weight of Silence

  • by Heather Gudenkauf
  • Narrated by Jim Colby, Eliza Foss, Cassandra Morris, Andy Paris, Therese Plummer, Tony Ward
  • 10 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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.” (
"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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A jewel

I have a long commute, so I listen to MANY books. I often just glance through the descriptions and pick at random based on some little thing that caught my eye. This one was a jewel! I do not know how I discovered it, and can't remember why I picked it - but I am certainly glad that I did. It gives a new perspective on consequences of choices that we make in life - even the seemingly small and casual ones. The story of interwoven lives that much is sad but such a good listen.
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- Sara

Breathless supense

The book begins with the disappearance of two young girls in the pre-dawn hours of a summer day. It ends with the consequences of silence, of choices both made and not made, that lead to misunderstandings with tragic results.

Told in voices of five of the characters, the story evolves through the eyes of each: one of the missing children, her mother and brother, the father of the other little girl, and a deputy sheriff with a history intertwined with the one of the families. As the search for the children begins, each one slowly reveals the ghosts that haunt them and come to life on this one, terrifying day.

Young Callie has not spoken a single word since one terrible day of violence when her father whispered something malevolent in her ear. It is her father who has dragged her into the woods in a fit of drunken belligerence, and it is Callie's voice we hear as we follow along helplessly, fearing for her as each moment passes. But, Petra's voice, except for one brief moment at the beginning, remains agonizingly silent. All we know is she is not with Callie and her father, and we fear all the more for her.

Although Callie's silence is her choice not speak, it is the willful keeping of secrets and lies of omission by all the characters that culminate in the events that brings about the unbearable weight of silence of the book's title. In turn, we learn the secrets that Callie's mother, her brother Ben and Deputy Sheriff Loras carry with them through their thoughts of things not said, things not done, as each confronts the unfolding truths of the events. Petra's father battles his own demons as he confronts the possible loss of a daughter he who almost wasn't born.

This is a book you won't want to put down. It crackles with suspense as we listen the voices whisper to themselves, and the story tumbles toward what can only be a heartbreaking end. But the ending is not the one we think we see coming and not all will find redemption.
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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-27-2009
  • Publisher: Recorded Books