Friday, September 25, 2009

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Family secrets lie just beneath the surface in this suspenseful debut novel, set in contemporary small town Iowa. 7 year-old best friends Calli and Petra are closer than most girls that age - Calli, a selective mute since the age of 4, relies on Petra to be her voice, while Petra seems to instinctively know what Calli needs at any given time. When both girls disappear from their homes one hot summer morning, no one anticipates how the day will end.

When Deputy Sheriff Louis finds out about the missing girls, he immediately sets out on the case. While his history with Calli's mother, Toni, complicates his involvement, he has no intention of backing off the case. Toni, along with Petra's parents, anxiously await news as Calli's brother and other volunteers search for the girls in the woods. Griff, Calli's father is supposed to be away on a fishing trip; however he did not get away that morning as planned. Could he be responsible for taking the girls? What other secrets will be uncovered throughout the course of the search?

While there are some plot holes in this story, overall it is a mesmerizing read. Told from multiple viewpoints, including silent Calli's, the short chapters and increasing tension keep the pages turning. Fans of Jodi Picoult or Anita Shreve will appreciate this novel, as well as anyone who is looking for a quick and engrossing family drama.

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