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BOOK LOVE: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn’s shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.

Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by a tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler. Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra or Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered.

Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets. (www.heathergudenkauf.com)

The Weight of Silence is a brilliant depiction of the complex and entangled lives of a small community, and how the desperate circumstances of missing children brings some people together and makes others turn on each other. Calli is a sweet character, so well drawn, and the secret that has stopped her from talking is heart-rending. I couldn’t stop reading this until I’d finished it. I’ll definitely be watching for more of Heather’s books.

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BOOK LOVE: The Bark Cutters by Nicole Alexander

Past and present interweave in a story that traces the Gordon family from the arrival of Scottish immigrant Hamish Gordon in the 1850s to the life of his great-granddaughter Sarah, on their family property, Wangallon, in the Australian bush.

I was lucky enough to see this debut fiction novel before it was published. An engrossing multi-generational saga set around Wangallon, the Gordon family homestead, this multi-layered story of romance, risk and family secrets by Nicole Alexander, ‘Australia’s Newest Bush Storyteller’, is highly recommended.