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The Weight of Silence

Cover of The Weight of Silence

The Weight of Silence

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Masterfully written and beautifully told, Heather Gudenkauf's debut is a stunning novel of family devotion, honesty and regret that will linger long after the last page is turned. It happens quietly...
Masterfully written and beautifully told, Heather Gudenkauf's debut is a stunning novel of family devotion, honesty and regret that will linger long after the last page is turned. It happens quietly...
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  • Kindle Book
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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.3
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Reading Level:
    4

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Description-
  • Masterfully written and beautifully told, Heather Gudenkauf's debut is a stunning novel of family devotion, honesty and regret that will linger long after the last page is turned.

    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 a 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.

Excerpts-
  • From the book



    Galli

    Calli stirred in her bed. The heat of a steamy, Iowa August morning lay thick in her room, hanging sodden and heavy about her. She had kicked offthe white chenille bedspread and sheets hours earlier, her pink cotton nightgown now bunched up around her waist. No breeze was blowing through her open, screened window. The moon hung low and its milky light lay supine on her floor, a dim, inadequate lantern. She awoke, vaguely aware of movement downstairs below her. Her father preparing to go fishing. Calli heard his solid, certain steps, so different from her mother's quick, light tread, and Ben's hesitant stride. She sat up among the puddle of bedclothes and stuffed animals, her bladder uncomfortably full, and squeezed her legs together, trying to will the urge to use the bathroom to retreat. Her home had only one bathroom, a pink-tiled room nearly half-filled with the scratched-up white claw-foot bathtub. Calli did not want to creep down the creaky steps, past the kitchen where her father was sure to be drinking his bitter-smelling coffee and putting his tackle box in order. The pressure on her bladder increased and Calli shifted her weight, trying to think of other things. She spotted her stack of supplies for the coming second-grade school year: brightly colored pencils, still long and flat-tipped; slim, crisp-edged folders; smooth rubber-scented pink erasers; a sixty-four-count box of crayons (the supply list called for a twenty-four count box, but Mom knew that this just would not do); and four spiral-bound notebooks, each a different color.

    School had always been a mixture of pleasure and pain for Calli. She loved the smell of school, the dusty smell of old books and chalk. She loved the crunch of fall leaves beneath her new shoes as she walked to the bus stop, and she loved her teachers, every single one. But Calli knew that adults would gather in school conference rooms to discuss her: principal, psychologists, speech and language clinicians, special education and regular education teachers, behavior disorder teachers, school counselors, social workers. Why won't Calli speak? Calli knew there were many phrases used to try to describe her--mentally challenged, autistic, on the spectrum, oppositional defiant, a selective mute. She was, in fact, quite bright. She could read and understand books several grade levels above her own.

    In kindergarten, Miss Monroe, her energetic, first-year teacher whose straight brown hair and booming bass voice belied her pretty sorority girl looks, thought that Calli was just shy. Calli's name didn't come up to the Solution-Focus Education Team until December of Calli's kindergarten year. And that didn't occur until the school nurse, Mrs. White, after handing Calli a clean pair of socks, underwear and sweatpants for the second time in one week, discovered an unsettling pattern in Calli's visits to the health office.

    "Didn't you tell anyone you needed to use the restroom, Calli?" Mrs. White asked in her low, kind voice.

    No response, just Calli's usual wide-eyed, flat expression gazing back at her.

    "Go on into the restroom and change your clothes, Calli," the nurse instructed. "Make sure to wash yourself the best that you can." Flipping through her meticulous log documenting the date and time of each child's visit to the health office, the ailment noted in her small, tight script--sore throats, bellyaches, scratches, bee stings. Calli's name was notated nine times since August 29, the first day of school. Next to each entry the initials UA--for Urinary Accident. Mrs. White turned to Miss Monroe, who had escorted Calli to the...

About the Author-
  • Heather Gudenkauf is an Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Heather lives in Iowa with her husband and children. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and running.

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    MIRA
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