PBR Review
Book Club Discussion Questions-The Weight of Silence By Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of Silence

by Heather Gudenkauf

PBR Book Review: I thought the beginning of this book was a little weak and at times slow. However, once the story takes hold, it is a nicely written touching book that evokes a lot of emotion. It’s told from the perspectives of each of the main characters, which allows insight into their thoughts; you end up loving some and hating others. A Few of the characters were one dimensional, but most were fully developed and complex. Although this is not your traditional who done it mystery, the author does a stellar job of creating tension, which makes the book hard to put down. The heart of the book is about family dynamics and unconditional love. It deals in a very real manner with marriage and abusive relationships. The story sparks empathy towards women who are paralyzed and unable to see their way out of bad situations and it stirs up strong emotions and conflict as it tests the boundaries of what makes a good mother, father, friend or sibling. These and other topics such as selective mutism, the emotional toll of family secrets and alcoholism would provide lively discussions for book clubs. In summary I enjoyed this book and found it to be an engrossing, unusual read.

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*Author Website: http://www.heathergudenkauf.com/books.html

*Discussion Questions

1. Antonia describes herself as a bad mother while Louis reassures her that she, indeed, is a good mother. What evidence from the book supports each of their beliefs? How does Louis’ history with Antonia effect his own decisions as a husband and father?

2. Antonia and Louis’ long history together is integral to The Weight of Silence. As a deputy sheriff, what, if any, ethical or moral boundaries did Louis cross in the search for Calli?

3. Ben and Calli grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father. Knowing that abuse is often passed on from generation to generation, what are Ben’s and Calli’s chances of breaking the cycle of abuse in their future relationships? What instances from the book lead you to believe this?

4. How does the death of Antonia’s mother play into the decisions Antonia made as a wife and mother? How do you think Antonia’s life would be different if her mother had lived?

5. Martin Gregory, a proper, disciplined professor of economics has always valued order, predictability, and restraint in all areas of his life. How does his decision to seek retribution against the man he was sure violated his daughter fit into his belief system?

6. Antonia, Louis, Martin, and Petra’s perspectives are told in the first person present tense point of view while Calli’s is told in third person past tense? Why do you think the author decided to write the story in this way?

7. What does the title The Weight of Silence mean to you? How does the title relate to each of the main characters’ lives?

8. TBefore Calli and Petra’s disappearance, the Willow Creek Woods was a haven for Calli, Ben, and Toni. Calli, fearful of the forest after her ordeal, asked her mother if she ever got scared when walking in the woods. Toni replied, “It sent you back to me, didn’t it?” What did Toni mean by this?

9. Martin Gregory had worked so hard to leave behind his farming roots by becoming a college professor, but after Petra’s abduction and serious injuries, Martin subsequently moved with his family from Willow Creek to a farm. Why did Martin and Fielda decide to do this?

10. Toni describes Calli and Petra as “kindred spirits.” What makes their friendship so special? Do you think Calli and Petra’s friendship will last into their adulthood? Why or why not? Who do you consider to be your kindred spirit? Why?

Book Summary
Paperback: 416 page -Publisher: MIRA; Reprint edition (Jan. 26 2016) - ISBN-10: 0778319377

The runaway New York Times bestseller—over half a million copies in print

It happens quietly one hot August morning in Iowa: two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.

Seven-year-old Calli Clark suffers from selective mutism brought on by a tragedy when she was a toddler. Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend—and her voice. But neither girl has been heard from since they vanished.

Now, Calli and Petra's parents are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.
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