Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Weight of Silence, by Heather Gudenkauf

I bought this book at LAX in mid-September and didn't finish it until last night when I was on a plane back from Chicago with nothing else to read. So that probably gives you a good clue as to how fond I am of The Weight of Silence.

This book feels like a creative writing exercise--start with a scene that establishes dread, flashback to the events that led to the scene, use multiple narrators, and show the effects of a social problem. And why not put some kids in peril? Hillary Jordan used virtually the same formula in Mudbound (see the very first post on this blog) but did it with greater skill and in a way that actually illuminated a time, a place, and a social issue. We don't learn anything new about alcoholism (or domestic abuse or predators) from Heather Gudenkauf--it's all been written about (better) before. We don't even learn much about the one rather unique problem in her story--selective mutism.

So, if you're in Hudson's Booksellers in your favorite airport, don't let the resonant title or nice cover design make you reach for your wallet.

Favorite passage: I still like the title.

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