Rachel's Reviews > The Weight of Silence

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
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's review
Feb 06, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in August, 2013

This novel seems to me like a first-time novelist's attempt. It's more of a series of character outlines than a fully formed novel. I was invested enough to keep reading, mostly to see how things would turn out at the end. But the bulk of the story was made up of backstory, and there was a lot of stilted, "tell, not show" dialogue.

The premise of the plot is that two girls/best friends go missing the same morning and the parents/police are on the quest to find and save them. But most of the chapters by the various POV characters (which I feel was a mistake anyway for such a simple story,) revolved around re-telling histories of farmers-turned-academics, abusive families, unrequited love affairs, most of which had no bearing on the present day plot, or showed no payoff at the end. It was all a bit top-heavy with backstory information about "this is who I am and my motivations as a person" and a bit of a snail's pace with figuring out what happened to the girls. The prologue and Petra's chapters were most unnecessary, and the loose ends of the plot were only ever explained and tied up in the epilogue, which seems like a red flag all on it's own.

I'll give Gudenkauf props for her visual descriptions of the woods. But I think she got a bit too caught up in how her characters feel that issues such as Calli's mutism, Louis and Antonia's doomed love affair or Martin's whole backstory were a lot more important and meaningful to her than they were to me as the reader. It's a good lesson for me personally, with my own work. Having feelings, or pain in your past, is not enough to drive a novel. You need to balance out the middle by giving more credence to action and plot.

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Reading Progress

08/11/2013 marked as: read

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