Becky's Reviews > The Weight of Silence

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
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it was ok
bookshelves: 2018, audiobook, disappointing, mystery-and-thrillers, reviewed

A few years back (OK, like 6, whatever, who's counting?) I read Heather Gudenkauf's second novel "These Things Hidden" and I loved it. It was just one of those books that worked for me perfectly at the time, surprised me, and kept me riveted.

MAN, I wish I could say the same about this book.

I actually read (or listened) to this one during my Goodreads Hiatus of 2017, but it just wasn't the same. There were a lot of the same aspects - multiple perspectives and narrators, secrets, regrets, and traumas that are slowly revealed, etc. But it just didn't WORK for me the way that TTH did. Eh, sometimes happens like that.

So when I did my Mulligan read recently, I breezed through mostly to refresh my memory, and make sure that my recollection of feeling "meh" about it wasn't just because I was in a weird place with my reading last year and just couldn't really get into it. It wasn't.

This FEELS like a debut novel. Had I read it before TTH, I probably would have liked it a lot more, but all the ways that TTH worked for me, this did not. The characters just didn't feel right to me. The conclusion and "whodunnit" aspect came out of left field. But mostly, it was just the writing that kept distracting me from the story.

Here's an example of what I mean. In a scene where one of the main perspective characters finds out that her daughter is missing, in the midst of her finding her not in her bed, where she should be, and before confirming to the police that she's missing, the woman goes off on this tangent of thought about how her daughter has a history of bathroom accidents at school. In the audio, even at 2x speed, it's a good 5 minutes long, at least, and DETAILED with things that the mother couldn't possibly know about, even if the school nurse gave her the info. I mean, she's recollecting to the reader a conversation between the school nurse and the woman's mute daughter, AND a conversation between the school nurse and the little girl's teacher, verbatim. She wasn't there, and if anything the nurse would have just given her a heads up about the situation, not a "And then Ms. Jones said... and then I said...." play by play.

It was just distracting. Your kid is missing. Maybe let's focus.

Another way that the writing was distracting was in the descriptions. They were beautiful, lyrical descriptions of the way that the light played off of the dew drops on the leaves or whatever... but it was just too much, and too frequent. I can imagine the beauty of a summer morning, I don't need every blade of grass recounted to me.

This book was more of a "whodunnit" kind of mystery, in a way, than TTH, but it's not clear that that's the case until late in the book. Because of the multiple perspectives, we know that the missing girls are not dead, and that takes a lot of the tension and suspense out of the story.

There was just a lot that didn't work for me in this one. Which is a shame, because I think that Gudenkauf can tell a damn good story if she just gets out of her own way enough to do it. I might check out another of her books, because if the 2nd was as good as it was in comparison to her 1st book (this one), then I can only hope she'll continue improving.
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Reading Progress

November 22, 2014 – Shelved
November 22, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read_audio
July 12, 2016 – Shelved as: pending-review
December 28, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read_audio
May 9, 2018 – Started Reading
May 9, 2018 –
30.0%
May 10, 2018 –
100.0% "Review to come"
May 10, 2018 – Finished Reading
May 12, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018
May 12, 2018 – Shelved as: audiobook
May 12, 2018 – Shelved as: disappointing
May 12, 2018 – Shelved as: mystery-and-thrillers
May 12, 2018 – Shelved as: reviewed

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