Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf follows Amelia Winn, hospital ER/ trauma and sexual assault nurse for whom life is good- she’s married to David and has a stepdaughter, Nora, who’s six at the start of the story, and almost seven by the end. They are a small but close family and Amelia considers Nora to be her daughter after Nora’s birth mother has not been in contact for years. David and she have practically bought Nora up.

After a thrilling, action-packed start in which Amelia’s world is shattered when a hit and run driver runs her and her colleague Stacey down as they leave work for the day, author Heather Gudenkauf
launches us straight into Amelia’s life as it is two years later, where she is learning to live again after the accident left her with a severe head injury and profoundly deaf, and Stacey dead.

From that day on, Amelia fights to get her life back on track, wanting justice for her and Stacey, but turns to drink to solve her problems in life.
This, however, is not the answer, and all she does is jeapordise her relationship with David and Nora. Not wanting to give up on anything, she fights for what she feels is right, turning to those she trusts for help.

Another wish of hers is to practice nursing again in spite of her deafness, and she can’t hide her surprise when she’s taken on as an admin assistant by the local Five Mines Cancer Research Centre in the town of Mathias, Idaho.

Amelia is a keen kayaker, and is drawn into a murder investigation the day she discovers a body by the river while out kayaking with her assistance dog, Stitch. As the only eye-witness, she spends time with her childhood friend, and the town’s police detective Jake and the investigation team trying to figure out what happened to cause colleague and friend Gwen’s death.

From this moment, the book’s plot is full of twists, turns and surprises. Despite the relatively small cast of characters, I felt I knew who was who and was cheering Amelia on in the moments she tried to take parts of the investigation into her own hands. Gudenkauf has created Amelia as a strong and resilient person who takes on the world head-on in spite of her deafness. She is a caring person who really values those who treat her well.

What she goes through in the book and her reactions to life show she is not afraid to confront everybody in her path, and show she is worth a lot as a person despite her hearing loss. She challenges misconceptions, yet creates awareness, and I think that’s what I loved about this book, along with its plot.

As a person with disabilities myself, I could identify with not being understood by people and having to deal with misconceptions of people without disabilities. I, too, have a severe sensory impairment , although mine is visual and not hearing. I agreed with Amelia when she mentioned that her other senses were heightened due to the lack of one of them, and that’s true because I experience the same thing whether it’s because of my physical disability or my sensory one.

The book’s plot, synopsis and even title grabbed me instantly and I really wasn’t able to put this down. This is a very fast paced, action-packed thriller. I see it also has a very sensitive and personal side to it, too , because Amelia’s relationship with her service dog Stitch and also with Jake, a childhood friend and the only person who seems to have to want anything to do with her after the day her life changed, are realistic and touching. Jake is also the only person she knows who knows American Sign Language (ASL) which Amelia relies on for communication, although she is also a proficient lip-reader.

Gudenkauf gets us right into the action at the beginning of the book, and we even learn what we later realise are important facts for understanding the entire book, whatever format we choose to access it in.

Overall for me, Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf is a brilliantly written and high-suspense story with elements of mystery that kept me interested and holding on every word. I loved the way that Amelia’s deafness was part of, but not the whole story, and how she always saw the good in her deafness and rarely saw it as an impediment. I liked learning about the different technology and other means she had of accessing the world despite her disabilites.

Stitch was just adorable, and I got the sense that the dog, and Amelia, helped each other in complementing ways. Stitch is Amanda’s ears and voice and she gave him a new life after he went through the unthinkable with another owner. The author leaves this to the reader’s imagination.

This combination makes Not a Sound a truly unforgettable novel and a pleasure to read and review. It is the kind of book I felt I wanted to go back through straight after having finished it, and that means I thought it was great!
Everyone can learn a lot from Heather Gudenkauf’s writing, and Amanda’s character is made even more realistic because Gudenkauf lives with profound deafness herself. The book helps in raising awareness of deafness, and I think everyone will find enjoyment in it.

I’ll finish this review by rating the book. 5 stars, which just isn’t enough as it deserves many more than that. Read this book!
A HUGE THANKS to Heather Gudenkauf, and to her publisher for my ARC of this book. Loved it and will be reading more by Heather soon. I think I have found another favourite author! A bonus is an excerpt of The Weight of Silence one of Heather’s previous books, at the end of Not a Sound. Five stars are not enough for this book.

Not a Sound is out now!

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