The Austinist – 11/29/11
Most books have something of import to communicate to the reader, but this true life account of Seale’s trips to India in the middle and end of the last decade exposed her to not just tremendous poverty, but to its most helpless and legion victims, children, many of whom are also having their years of innocence wiped away by plagues of disease, forced labor and nothing short of sexual slavery.

It’s not an easy subject to broach or to read about, and the introduction itself to The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India is a testament to this difficulty. “There is a holocaust quietly happening among India’s children. The perpetrator is poverty, and its foot soldiers are disease, gender and caste discrimination, unclean water, illiteracy and malnutrition.” Not exactly beach reading, but Seale has a patient and balanced viewpoint that eases some of the pain inherent in her topics. Furthermore, she’s less interested in a litany of complaints or solutions and is more dedicated to her reporting. As she explains: “Foreigners rarely fully understand the society they think to ‘improve,’ and the potential for imposing their own cultural bias can result in negative consequences for those whose lives they seek to change.”

It must be noted that the tone of the book is overwhelmingly positive, and, as Boudreaux explains late in the book, the time has never been better to help the helpless. “The time for philanthropy is now…Together let’s put our feet down and stop allowing children to starve.”

Conversations Book Club – 10/23/11
After I read the book THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE by Shelley Seale and thought about the sacrifices she has made to do her part to help those less fortunate really makes you think about your own contribution to the world. We all have looked at the television and heard a story of someone in need of help or walked past someone who says they need a helping hand, but this book puts names to the faces and a personal story that you are not soon to forget.

There’s a lot of soul-searching that can be done by all of us, and I think what Shelley has done is continue a conversation that should never be too far from us. This is a book that will help you to appreciate life, acknowledge the power you have to make a difference and the importance of using that power to help others.

Sara Melissa Dirks – 9/29/11
Shelley Seale has a genuine talent with the written word. In this well-researched and informative book, written with true heart and compassion, she brings the reader along as she shares her own awakening to the heartbreaking realities of life for an estimated 25 million orphaned children in India. Far from being a depressing book, it is an informative, heartfelt, and inspirational read–full of moving accounts about the people she’s met as she educated herself on the plight of orphaned children. She tells deeply touching stories about the children who touched her life and the inspiring people who are finding innovative and loving ways to make the world a better place for them.

It’s a must read for anyone who understands the world is getting smaller every day and each and every one of us truly has the power to make a difference, even in something as seemingly overwhelming as 25 million orphaned children. Through her stories, we see the true power of one person’s decision to take a stand and the effect it can have. Since it’s first publication in 2009, “The Weight of Silence” has moved numerous individuals to step up and do their part to help these precious and deserving children. Read it and you will likely find yourself inspired to do your part too. This book is just that powerful!

Christopher Hajovsky – 9/24/11
The vast majority of us, myself included, have incredibly easy lives compared to millions of orphaned children that live in abject poverty in India. Occasionally we see something in the media that gives us some sort of inclination that this situation exists, but when you read this book it really hits home just how enormous and difficult the problem is. But as bleak as it may be for so many of these kids, this book also points out that it is NOT hopeless for them. There are so many amazing people doing extraordinary work, and their endeavors are having powerful, positive effects on so many lives. This is a testament to the greatness of human kindness, and the stories of these kids and the people who are working with them are inspirational to us all.

Jessica Voigts – 9/22/11
I have to admit first thing – I’ve read this book twice in 24 hours. I was so impressed with it, with the flowing writing and the ESSENCE of India, that when I finished, I started right back up again. Far from a depressing book filled with depressing statistics about orphaned children in India (although those depressing statistics are right in the book!), this book is filled with hope, and joy, and the irresistible smiles of children, happy to have found a home. One of the things I love best about this is the new epilogue, where Shelley follows up with many of the children that we came to know and love as we read the book. Hope DOES spring eternal – this was very powerful, and shows me that with care and connection, we CAN change the future for so many that need our help. Thank you, Shelley, for writing such a powerful book that has touched the lives of so many, many people.

Craig Lakey – 9/21/11
In “The Weight of Silence”, the author does a remarkable job of unraveling the complex issues that drive India’s spiraling population of unwanted children. Ms. Seale provides comprehensive and in-depth research regarding the abject poverty, rampant disease and cultural inertia that fosters such dire circumstances. But the book is not just about that. This book is about the children that are left in the wake of these issues. It’s a book about individual children, their individual stories and the people that are committed to helping them. Despite the bleak nature of the subject matter, this book is as much about hope as it is about tragedy. It provides the reader with a balanced view of the overwhelming need offset by the compassionate, heroic efforts of those that refuse to be overwhelmed by it. You will be heartbroken by what you read but you will be heartened by what is being done and what you can do to help.

Luxury Reading – 9/21/10
Author Shelley Seale takes us on an emotional journey, showing us the lives of children living in poverty, toiling as child laborers, and those struck with diseases such as AIDS. In the modern world, children are subconsciously taught to take for granted many basic things. Children in the slums of India truly see some of these basic things as privileges and luxuries. Being a native Indian and having seen the slums for myself, I found The Weight of Silence very difficult to read at times. However, I also found myself feeling hope that there are people in this world who will use their wealth to help the disadvantaged. This book is likely to evoke feelings of heartbreak and tears of sadness, but is ultimately one of hope.

Stacey Schueler – How the Day Sounds – 2/18/10
I finished an amazing book this past week. It’s called The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India, by Shelley Seale. A long time ago, I read the book The Irresistable Revoluetion, by Shane Claiborne. I had said the entire time I was reading the book that this was one of those books that changes your life, that you think about for a long time after reading… one that makes you want to run around and tell everyone about it and everything you want to do because of the book. Well, this book was like that. Except worse. And by worse, I mean COMPLETELY AMAZING. It is everything I’ve wanted to do, all wrapped up in one book. Each time I’d put down the book, all I wanted to do was hop on a plane and go to India.

Bob Demchuk – Scene East – 1/1/2010
The frenzy of the holiday season and all that it implies for gift-giving has made me stop and think for a minute about Shelley Seale’s great book.   Her description of the need of India’s children, and her optimism about the possibilities in these children if they’re given support, love, and direction in life, made me realize how misguided some of our own priorities can be.   Her book should be read by everyone trying to find that perfect gift for the friend who has everything.  Maybe that gift should be a gift of giving back!  Hopefully Shelley’s book will spur people to make donations to areas like the Miracle Foundation or Akanksha Foundation, where the money can have such a positive impact on so many lives!  Thanks Shelley, for putting a sharper focus on what is really important.

J.P. O’Sullivan – The Hope Foundation – 12/21/09
A fantastic insight into exactly the way things are for millions of children in India. Honest, thought provoking and a beautiful account of changes that can be made… A recommendation for anyone who has been to India, worked with the street children and would like their senses to be restimulated…the sounds, the smells, the children’s faces- buy the book for yourself and quite simply, let it take you back there.

Jamie Deyhle – 12/6/09
Shelley Seale opens the door to the real India and the children who so touched her heart in The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India. It is a factual, well researched account of the orphans in India and their lives; of those who live to help them, and those who don’t. Truly a walk inside the amazing collage of heartwrenching stories, plus blinding beauty and joys. . .that they call home.

Melissa Cook – Scene East -10/4/09
All of us like to think that we care about those less fortunate, that we’re aware of what is happening in the world beyond our view. By traveling to India and writing this readable and gripping book, Shelley Seale has actually done something about it. In the process, she has inspired me and I hope she will inspire you. Seale dove deep into the realities of life for the poorest of the poor children in India. Her prose vividly brings to life the love she gave those children– and the love she received back many times over. She describes in unstinting detail the rough lives and limited futures faced by many of these children, but she brings home the idea that while you can’t help everyone, you certainly can help one. Or two. And imagine what can come of those lives, if those children are helped?

After reading The Weight of Silence, I am doubly inspired to help spread the word that we Americans, who live in such a rich and comfortable country, have an obligation to do what we can to help even one child. Seale’s story highlights that each and every life has value and that every effort to improve the quality of those lives is worthwhile. So get inspired! Buy a copy of this book, tell all your friends, and between all of us we can make a real difference.

Delta Donohue – Namaste India Children’s Fund – 9/30/09
The Weight of Silence should be required reading for everyone. Ms. Seale does an extraordinary job of informing her readers about the 25 million children that live on the streets of India or in orphanages. She presents the complexities of caste, poverty and child labor in such a way that they are understandable to all readers. The author delves into her own journey, striving to come to terms with India’s overwhelming challenges and opportunties. She does not shy away from the pain and discovery process that accompanies such a journey. Her book is a lovely pairing of personal anecdotes and observations and well documented research. Like Ms. Seale, I work with a non-profit that seeks to aid the street children of India. Reading her remarkable book felt like stepping through the pages of my own journals. It left me with a renewed commitment to continue working on behalf of these invisible children and to return to India as soon as possible.

Elaine Kaushal – 9/30/09
I began reading the book 2 days ago and am more than halfway through it. It is a beautiful story of courage and is brilliantly written. Thank you for sharing your heart through this book. It stirs powerful emotions of love, passion for service and helping children, and may prove to be an integral part of our journey to have children.

Carol Hoyer, PhD – Reader Views – 9/15/09
Although most readers know there are abandoned children and poverty all over the world, it really won’t hit home until they read this true and heartbreaking story by author Shelley Seale. We also know that each country and the US only want to show what works and how well each are doing to care for their people. The author is not discounting India’s attempt to show the better part of their country; she is showing that there are still many areas that have poverty, people without places to live and the basics that each of us take for granted on a daily basis.

The children of these deprived areas die of many diseases that in the US are treated on a daily basis. They scrounge for food in garbage and dumps. There are no bathrooms- they use the streets. Many children end up in orphanages hoping just to stay alive and maybe one day be returned to their families. Ms. Seale takes us on a journey through the country, poverty-stricken villages and orphanages. She meets with the caregivers and children and sees the despair and desire to be loved and given the same opportunity as everyone else.

This isn’t a love and flower story – it is one of facts and personal observation. After reading this journey, I thought about all the requests for money that you see on TV for children in other countries and how I thought they all were a scam. There are many very dedicated, true to their mission charities. At the end of each chapter, Ms. Seale provides footnotes and in the back of the book she provides a list of organizations that are legitimate. Throughout the book she provides pictures from the thousands she has taken. Once you read “The Weight of Silence” by Shelley Seale and realize the true impact, you will hopefully change your mind and do a random act of kindness by helping these children.

Lillian Brummet Curled Up Book Reviews – September 7, 2009
In this book Shelley brings the reader along to join in an emotional journey of India’s orphanages and slums. The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India is a highly entertaining book. My lips were trembling and eyes began watering by page 11 and by page 41 I had belted out laughter several times causing my husband to say “what?” with growing frustration. Readers will be welcomed to each new chapter with quotes from Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. among other amazing individuals that have graced this planet.

Learn about the issues facing children around the globe by exploring the slums of India. Orphanages and the occasional loving neighborhood home are crammed full of hungry children from poor and destitute families. Lack of education, understanding, facilities and staff are the chains that place weight on the wings of these young dreamers, and they have a big chance of repeating the cycle that their family, friends and neighbors are in. Yet this book is filled with hope. Huge hearts and individuals from around the globe are standing up to create a wave of conscious steps toward a better planet. Buy this book – you won’t put it down until the last page has been turned and it is certain to be one of your favorites on the bookshelf.

Dr. Pamela Crawford – September 6, 2009
As an adoptive mother of a 7-year old girl newly arrived (Oct. 2008) from Mumbai, I eagerly ordered this book when I first heard about it a few weeks ago. This is a beautifully written book and important book. Naturally, I saw my daughter in many of the stories told, but maybe more importantly, I found myself inspired by this book to find a way to do more for these children. I am comforted by the words of Mother Teresa quoted in this book “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one,” but there must be a way to do more.

The author, as artist, paints a vision of the beauty and the desperation of these children. I understand the resilience of the children described as I watch my daughter enjoy her life to the fullest (despite early poverty; the violent death of her mother; a devastating train accident resulting in a head injury and the loss of her right leg, and 3 years spent in an orphanage). My heart breaks as I read of the lives of the children (and adults) decimated by HIV.

Importantly, to me, this book addresses our obligations as humans to care for and protect the most vulnerable among us and is, at the same time, free from any particular religious agenda. I’m appreciative of the gift given to me by Ms. Seale in the writing of this book.

Charles Ashbacher – Book Reviews Editor – August 30, 2009
This book is an outsider’s story of the lives of some of those children, where Seale travels to the country and does what she can to achieve the role of the insider. It is an honest appraisal of the country; while there are times when the accounts are those of someone sensitive to the personal tragedy for the most part Seale remains realistic in her descriptions of the situation. She is appalled by the conditions yet does an excellent job in describing the context and the successes that India is experiencing. This is important, for a problem of this magnitude can only be solved by the children being more integrated into the Indian economy, something that cannot be done without some understanding of how the Indian economy and culture functions. Read the full review.

Midwest Book Reviews – August 8, 2009
India has a good chunk of the planet’s population, but their stories often go unheard to western ears. “The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India” is a memoir from author Shelley Seale, reflecting on her journeys through the Indian subcontinent and her encounters with the indomitable spirit of the people who reside in the cities, with a focus on the children. “The Weight of Silence” is an eye-opening and intriguing read.

Jane Stanfield – Author, Mapping Your Volunteer Vacation – August 5, 2009
The Weight of Silence
is at times a hard book to read.  That being said, I came away with a feeling of hope and the confidence in the power of one. The book is organized in vignette of Seale’s multiple visits to orphanages in India since 2004. The sections begin with quotations from prominent people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Anne Frank that beautifully tie the different topics together. Seale has amassed a startling number of statistics, the level of which seems incomprehensible to understand. Her stories of the individuals she met and the children she came to love are the heart of this book for me.

She recounts one of her most difficult days when she visited multiple slums and heard the stories of grandmothers raising grandchildren with HIV with no way to support the family with food let alone the costly medicines for the children. Her honesty as she describes how she cut the day short and retreated to her room to process her notes and her feelings brought me into her world.
She doesn’t hide her emotions. She does not judge what she sees but reports it with clear language and sweeping descriptions. You can almost see the colors, hear the cacophony of sounds and feel the heat and humidity of India.  Why does she go back again and again?  It is the children.  When you read the book, prepare yourself to fall in love with them as well, as you cheer them on towards their triumphs and empathize with their struggles.  “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” is from Mother Teresa.  From the book I got, if you can’t support a hundred children, then support just one.

Lynne Sullivan – Travel Guidebook Writer – August 3, 2009
Two words: read it. Expect to be lured into a bewildering country, where you will fall in love with gentle, fascinating, resilient people, and be amazed (as well as frustrated) by its culture. After seeing “Slumdog Millionaire” last year, I scratched India off my bucket list. I had the general idea, and that was quite enough, thanks. Now, I’m shopping the Internet for airfare, calculating how much of this vast country I can see in a couple of weeks, and evaluating the organizations profiled in Shelley’s book to determine what I can do to impact the lives of “Invisible Children.”

I’ve given this book to friends, talked it up at my book club, begged people to read it and share their thoughts with me. Shelley Seale not only tells the inside story of underfunded orphanages and abandoned street children, she clarifies the local beliefs and politics that allow millions of kids to live in abject poverty in the midst of growing wealth and suffer treatable disease in the shadow of modern, world-class medical facilities. Photos of the kids and lists of resource contacts add to the pleasure and value of this well-written book.

Mara Gorman – The Mother of all Trips – August 2, 2009
This book, which is both a personal narrative and a journalistic document, follows Seale’s journey over the past four years into the streets, orphanages and slums of India. The book is a thoroughly researched, well-documented account of a very large and complex problem. Lack of access to food and water, let alone education; the AIDs epidemic; drug use, prostitution, and rape; and the inequities created by an illegal but thriving caste system are all factors that add up to a reality of 25 million children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or exploited in India. If this seems like a daunting prospect, that’s because it is. To describe this situation coherently in a short number of pages would be a feat in itself, but Seale does more than that. She humanizes the problem by describing her own visits to India and her conflicting emotions about whether she is doing enough to help. In under 300 pages she tells a compelling story by showing us who these children are and why they matter.

Sean McLachlan – Gadling’s Travel Reads – August 1, 2009
Author Shelley Seale’s discovery of this human tragedy led her life in a whole new direction, and it is this that gives the book its impetus. Besides her personal story, two things really set this book apart from the “see the horrible things happening in the Third World” genre. Firstly, it takes a mostly positive spin. While Seale doesn’t flinch from the uglier side of Indian life, she focuses on the children’s resilience and dreams. They don’t come off as poor victims waiting for rich peoples’ help. Her main point is that these kids aren’t in need of handouts, but the basic human right of a childhood.

The second strong point is that the book is well grounded in fact, skillfully interwoven with the narrative so that it never slows down the writing. We learn such nasty tidbits such as that rural doctors give their patients the wrong medicine 50% of the time, or that only one in three rural medical practitioners know how to make rehydration solutions to treat diarrhea, and horrible statistics about child prostitution. All of these are carefully annotated. The Weight of Silence is part travelogue, part expose, and gripping reading. The fact that this book shows deep respect for India’s people while not ignoring their faults sets this book apart.

Kaye Trout – Reviewer’s Bookwatch – August 1, 2009
The Weight of Silence is a sociological travel memoir about the beauty, richness, and terrible poverty in India and, in particular, about the children. Shelley Seale is an accomplished freelance writer, specializing in travel – multiple publications. The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India is beautifully written, well edited, extremely poignant, and educational. If you were touched by the movie Slumdog Millionaire and want to know more about India, its children and their problems, read this book.

Mathew Thottungal – Executive Editor, NextGen Publishing Ltd – August 1, 2009
It’s a thought provoking book, and being an Indian myself and having known about the reality called “street children”, yet the book provides a realistic account of children and the angels who help and serve these kids. The book is an eyeopener to really understand the plight of the children of the lesser gods and what society in general and the rich in particular could do to mitigate their sufferings, and bring these kids into the mainstream.

Kira Taniguchi – Austin Woman Magazine – August 1, 2009
The Weight of Silence
chronicles the lives of the more than 25 million orphaned children in India. They have not been orphaned by death in their families, but by poverty. Seale’s journey has led her into the orphanages to hear the children’s stories directly. She gives them a voice in her book and makes them invisible no more. Seale’s one wish is that a reason never existed for her to write this book – that there aren’t 25 million children living in orphanages or on the streets of India, but we are sure glad she did.

Dr. Jessie Voigts – Wandering Educators – July 28, 2009
I have to be honest – this book is very difficult to put down. It is extremely well-written, and even though aspects of the story are difficult (children living in poverty, orphans, child labor, AIDS, etc.), Shelley writes so compellingly of the possibilities of change that I was filled with hope instead of despair. This is because of the way that Shelley presents her life-changing work in India, with the Miracle Foundation – as that of hope, joy, hard work, and best of all, the children that are the future of India.

The Weight of Silence is not only a story of a personal journey but the also journey of hundreds, thousands of street children – some of whom are lucky enough to be taken in by organizations and people that care. That these children have an opportunity for the future – and also to be kids again – is a miracle wrought by countless people who care and strive to change their world. In this book, we learn of precious children, and each one becomes important to us. We also learn of the dedicated people who care for these children, giving up wealth or a comfortable home to truly change the lives of so many. After you read the book, each photo will resonate with you – the smiling faces have meaning and context and joy.

In The Weight of Silence, Shelley shares disheartening statistics about child labor, child trafficking, AIDS and its impact on families (and India), lost kids, and more. Yet, interspersed within is a great story of hope, a slice of hard work and courage and the amazing resilience of children to adapt and find joy in the smallest of things.  I laughed and cried when I read The Weight of Silence…and re-read it right after I finished. Somehow, these kids and their smiles work their way into your heart, and lead you to believing that despite the terrible circumstances of their lives, their extraordinary selves can shine through and make a path to a good life. It doesn’t always happen – there are too many kids, too many people willing to take advantage of them – for each story to end happily. Yet, there is enough hope in the kids and the people who believe in them that some WILL succeed – and will change the world. We care about these kids, deeply.

Jeff Salamon – Austin American-Statesman Book Editor – July 19, 2009
A number of memorable people populate Shelley Seale’s “The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India”: The volunteers who selflessly run the orphanages that house millions of children, the teachers and housemothers who work there, the Westerners, like Seale herself, who have chosen to give money and time to people who live halfway across the world. But mostly one is struck by the children themselves, some of them true orphans, some of them “economic orphans,” abandoned by parents who could no longer support them. Sibani, Rashikanta, Sumitra — these are children who would seem to have little to live for, but who often face their trials with indomitable personalities.

Though much of what Seale writes about is painful to read, much of it is filled with hope. Yes, most of India’s orphans live in grueling circumstances. But Seale emphasizes that “The Weight of Silence” isn’t a depressing book. Though the needs are great, the children Seale meets are bright and resilient, and would clearly thrive with a modest amount of support. Read the full review.

MotherLodeBeth – Top 100 Reviewer for – July 10, 2009
If this book doesn’t shake you to the core than I question if you are even really human…Then came the movie Slum Dog Millionaire and the stories of how the children in the movie and their parents and siblings were being removed from the slums and given clean homes and much needed educations. Then as the months went by we heard that none of this had happened. This is where the book has value. It notes that most children in India are forgotten throwaways, but need not be. Compelling stories about those who are trying hard to change things, and the hurdles they must overcome. Read the full review.

Abigail Mahnke – Inner Views Radio Show – July 10, 2009
This is a really well-written and compelling book. Shelley Seale tells wonderful stories integrated with facts and statistics. I learned so much! The book is so engaging that it took me no time at all to read it (and I didn’t want to put it down).

C.A. Webb – Conversations Book Club & Radio Show – July 9, 2009
THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE is a heartwrenching account of a population that much of the world are either unaware of or have simply become to because to care about. Shelley Seale takes us into the hearts, homes and lives of innocent children who would like nothing more than to have a voice in the world and know they are being thought about–and most importantly loved. Couple their daily challenges with threats such as HIV/AIDS and other calamities, and you can see why this book is needed not only to educate us on those who are less fortunate, but empower us to do all we can to make a difference.

Surface Earth – June 29, 2009
I received your book today.  I am only now on page 25 and am so moved I cannot describe how I feel.  I can tell you, as a reader of the stories you are sharing, that I want to read very slowly and already am saddened at the thought of getting to the end of the book.  At least by reading your book, I feel I am doing something, when I get to the last page, I suspect I will panic and want to be able to do something more.

MeriNews – India’s First Citizen Journalism News Portal – June 14, 2009
The US-based writer Shelley Seale, has come up with an account of her experiences with Indian slum children. Her book ‘The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India’, is aimed at creating awareness about these invisible children. In her book, Shelley combines the hardships of vulnerable Indian children with her feelings. This book is a moral response of a concerned human being. Read the full review.

Joan Collins – Author of the Foreword
Shelley Seale’s life-affirming and sensitive book brings into sharp focus the millions of children whose lives have been blighted by poverty, disease, abuse and more than anything the lack of parents or caregivers. In her journeys through the slums, streets and clinics of India, she has chronicled the childrens hopes and hardships and their ability to overcome crippling challenges. It is truly inspirational.

  1. The frenzy of the holiday season and all that it implies for gift-giving has made me stop and think for a minute about Shelley Seale’s great book. Her description of the need of India’s children, and her optimism about the possibilities in these children if they’re given support, love, and direction in life, made me realize how misguided some of our own priorities can be. Her book should be read by everyone trying to find that perfect gift for the friend who has everything. Maybe that gift should be a gift of giving back! Hopefully Shelley’s book will spur people to make donations to areas like the Miracle Foundation or Akanksha Foundation, where the money can have such a positive impact on so many lives! Thanks Shelley, for putting a sharper focus on what is really important.

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