Tag Archives: Iowa

The Weight of Silence

Title: The Weight of Silence

Author:  Heather Gudenkauf

Publisher: Mira, July 2009

Summary:  Martin Gregory wakes one morning to find his seven year-old daughter, Petra, is missing. Although it appears that Petra left the house on her own accord, her parents are starting to panic. When Deputy Sheriff Louis and Martin question Antonia, the mother of Petra’s best friend Calli, they discover that Calli is missing also. Antonia is convinced that the two girls have just ventured off into the woods that border their property and will be home soon. We know better.

Thirteen years ago, Antonia made the decision to marry Griff Clark instead of “Lou” Louis, the current Deputy Sheriff. That decision resulted in two children- 12 year old Ben and 7 year old Calli. It also resulted in a life of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse for Antonia and her children.

In the early chapters of the book, Calli has been dragged into the woods by her inebriated father in search of her “real” father, Deputy Louis. Of course that’s the liquor talking paired with Griff’s intense jealousy of Antonia and Lou’s past relationship. Calli has been mute since the age of four when she suffered from an as yet unknown trauma and now cannot call out for help. This is not hard to believe with a father like hers. So, we know what is happening to Calli, but what happened to Petra? Is Griff even more of a monster than we thought?

This story is told in the alternating voices of Calli, Martin, Antonia, Ben, and Lou. The story grabs you from the beginning and never lets go. I could NOT put this book down! Crimes against children are never pleasant to read about, but the details are handled very well. I cared so much for these characters, and especially those little girls that I had to find out what happened to them. If you want a story that stays on your mind and characters that make a place in your heart, you should read The Weight of Silence.

Who will like this book? Anyone who likes fast paced action and a great story.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

The Girls from Ames

Title: The Girls from Ames: A story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship

Author:  Jeffrey Zaslow

Publisher: Gotham, April 2009

 Summary: How does a group of ten women manage to stay friends for 40 years?  With a lot of hard work!  After reading their story, it is one of the things that I found I admired most about these women – their conscious decision to keep the group together no matter what life throws at them, and believe me, it’s thrown plenty.  They admit that they are more in touch with each other now than they have been over the years thanks to email.  But even before that, through annual reunions and a determined effort to be present at each other’s milestone events whenever possible, all of them do their best to stay a part of the group because it is that important to them.

Jeffrey Zaslow, a columnist from The Wall Street Journal, spent 4 days with them during one of their recent reunions.   Karla, Kelly, Marilyn, Jane, Jenny, Karen, Cathy, Angela, Sally, and Diana all share stories about what it was like to grow up in Ames, Iowa in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and what it was like to be a member of this tight circle.  The circle is not completely intact because, sadly, the eleventh member of the group, Sheila, died when she was in her early twenties.  But she’s definitely with them in spirit; the group has created a scholarship to Ames High in her memory.  We learn about her death and what it did to the girls individually and as a whole.  There are many sad stories to be shared, but also stories of great joy.  When anything of any importance happens in one of their lives, they go to each other first to share the experience, whether painful or joyful.  It was fascinating to read how they support each other.

Although I can’t help but wonder how the writing of the book would have fared in the hands of a writer with a less “reporter-like” voice, I believe the story of these women carries the book along and makes it a very worthwhile read.

Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Title:  The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Author:  Bill Bryson

Summary:  This book is ideal for any baby boomer who remembers their childhood fondly.  No heart-wrenching drama here.  The reader needs to have a good sense of humor and delight in the seriously silly adventures of children. I have not laughed out loud this much while reading a book in a long time.  Don’t you remember how seriously you took the “play” time you relished as a child? Don’t you want to feel so astonished by adult behavior again? Don’t you want to jump right into some great nostalgic read where all is fun, good and safe?

Bill Bryson, accomplished author of the favorite A Walk in the Woods(among others), shares his childhood and family life of the 1950′s and 1960′s growing up in Des Moines, Illinois.  He even likes his parents and appreciates their quirks! His storytelling is hilarious and warm. He laments about the wonderful things about this era in American history and what we may have lost. His impressive writing talent allows the reader to a take a nostalgic trip down memory lane in a feel-good and informative way.

I listened to the audio with someone who is not a baby boomer but sadly, was born, a tad too early, and he laughed out loud with me. The stories about childhood and the American way of life are universal. Please pick up a copy of the audio book while going on a long trip this summer and laugh with your family and friends.

Recommended by:  Karen, Deputy Town Librarian