I can never answer the question, “What is your favorite novel?” without hyperventilating a little at the sheer audacity of coming up with an answer. That is like asking what is my favorite gulp of air. There are so many amazing books that I’ve read over the years. I can only adequately answer sub-questions, like what is my favorite John Steinbeck novel? (The Grapes of Wrath) or what is my favorite Geraldine Brooks novel? (Year of Wonders) or what is my favorite period novel? (The Forgotten Garden).
If you were to ask me what is my favorite novel written in multiple points of view, the answer is simple. To date, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible is the clear winner in my mind. Say what you will about the melancholy that permeates the story, it is still a masterful work in multiple points of view. I think I have read it three times in the last ten years for that reason alone. It’s a tough job getting the reader to emotionally bond with one narrating character, but when you throw in two more, or three more, or four more, you are asking your reader to come up with four or five times the usual amount of character allegiance. Tall order. Kingsolver does it amazingly well.
Heather Gudenkauf’s The Weight Of Silence is the story of two missing girls, their desperate parents, and the cop who’s got a past with one of the girl’s mothers. There are multiple points of view, sometimes first person, sometimes third, in alternating fashion. Sometimes we’re in the head of the mother of one of the girls, sometimes the father of the other, sometimes in the head of the missing little girl who hasn’t spoken a word – by choice – in four years. It’s a page-turner, as stories of missing children should be, and it manages an admirable swing at usurping The Poisonwood Bible on my list of favorites, but it’s hard to unseat longstanding victors. TPB is still on the throne.
As a writer, I have a hard time not putting myself in the author’s place and putting my spin on their book. The reader deserves to know why Calli doesn’t speak, and you do find out, but I would have put more emphasis on that scene and actually done some different things with the outcome that I simply can’t say here. Spoilers are for cars.
If you read it and want to know what I would’ve done, holler and we’ll chat. If you like Jodi Piccoult, family dramas, and who-done-its, I think you will like this one.
See you on Friday.