The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
When two seven-year-old girls go missing, all are under suspicion. Calli Clark is a dreamer. A sweet, gentle girl, Callie suffers from selective mutism, brought on by a tragedy she experienced as a toddler. Her mother Antonia tries her best to help, but is confined by marriage to a violent husband. Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli have been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Now Calli and Petra's families are bound by the question of what has happened to their children. As support turns to suspicion, it seems the answers lie trapped in the silence of unspoken secrets.I liked this book. I normally go for something a bit more thought-provoking, but sometimes I like to settle down with an all-consuming easy read like this one.
For a first novel, I thought the suspense was well crafted, and the characters all had some lovely backgrounds for us to sink our teeth into. The pace was perfect; there was always something happening, and pieces of the puzzle were thrown at us rapidly. There wasn't much of a twist, however, and it was pretty predictable throughout.
Gudenkauf uses a multiple voice narrative to give us the plot from different points of view. I usually love this type of prose, and it worked well here. I particularly liked that everyone's voice apart from Calli's was written in first person narrative, subtly emphasising Calli's selective mutism. The different voices, although telling different parts of the story, didn't differ much in the way they were written. I love books (such as Trainspotting) where you can tell which character is speaking to you, simply by the way the prose is written, but here the voices were practically the same. I would have expected a seven year old girl and a well-educated fifty-seven year old father, for example, to have different narrative styles.
Having said that, the plot was gripping, the characters believable, and I found myself tearing through this in only a couple of days. Definitely a quick read, not for the literary hardcore and more something for those who like a book to sweep them along in a completely engaging story.