It's every parent's worst nightmare.... you wake up early one morning to find that the child that you tucked into bed the night before is gone -- not playing in another room or downstairs watching TV, but truly, hopelessly, nowhere to be found. Missing! The terror, the panic, the overwhelming emotions of just such a scene plays out in two very different homes just a few yards from each other in the book, The Weight of Silence.
Both seven years old, Calli and Petra are best friends. Calli does not speak. She is selectively mute after witnessing a traumatic event with her mother at the hands of her alcoholic father. Petra is the adored only child of loving parents who "knows" what her best friend is thinking and, therefore, often becomes her voice. Then in the pre-dawn hours of that fateful day, both little girls disappear.
Calli's parents, Antonia and Griff; Petra's parents, Martin and Fielda; Calli's big brother, Ben; deputy sheriff Louis, and the girls themselves all have a voice in this compelling narration. As the story unfolds each of their experiences and perspectives are told through alternating chapters of the book. In the eyes of the law and of each other, everyone is a suspect, and yet, there are no definitive clues. Did the girls wander off to play in the woods of their own free will? Were they snatched away by some horrible serial killer? Was it the dad? Or was it the big brother? Will there be answers or will they find them too late?
It is not often that I am able, or so inclined, to finish a book in one sitting, but this is a book that I just could not put down. I could feel the panic and desperation of these families as they searched for their little girls and like them I had to know what happened... good or bad. And even days after finishing the book, the story still haunts me and will likely remain in my memory for some time to come.