Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Release Date: January 12th 2016
Buy The Book: Book Depository
Steffi doesn't talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can't hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn't a lightning strike, it's the rumbling roll of thunder.
Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.
From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder follows Steffi, a sixth form student who has been struggling with selective mutism linked to her anxiety since she was young. The severity of her mutism has changed over the years, both improving and getting worse with various changes in her life. Steffi's world takes an unexpected turn when she meets Rhys, a new student who happens to be deaf. Since she knows some sign language, she is able to get to know him whilst they spend time together in sixth form.
First of all, I have to mention how grateful I am that Sara Barnard decided to write this story. The way it incorporated sign language was inspiring, and the communication between Steffi and Rhys was beautifully written. I've never read a YA story like this one before and I've also not come across a story that dealt with selective mutism, so I'm thankful that I was able to learn from this book.
Contemporary romance is something I usually have a love/hate relationship with because sometimes I find it overly romanticised and unrealistic. That wasn't the case with Steffi and Rhys. Everything about their story was believable as their feelings for each other progressed. There were ups and downs, there were tension filled moments and plenty of challenges, but it added to the honesty of the characters. The other relationships in Steffi's life were just as important as the romantic one. I can't tell you how much I adored the bond between Steffi's family. Her parents are divorced and both have their own separate families, but they get along and all work together to try and do what's best for Steffi. It was just so refreshing not to see the stereotypical scenarios that I see often when it comes to divorced parents in YA.
There was also Steffi's relationship with her best friend, Tem. I loved the two of them. I've already seen how well Sara Barnard writes friendships from Beautiful BrokenThings, so I'm not surprised by how happy I was over these two girls. I admired how they worked through their problems and supported each other. This kind of friendship is exactly what I want to see more of.
Steffi's anxiety played a huge part in this story, and it's one of the reasons why I fell in love with it as much as I did. Sara Barnard tells it so well. Steffi's thoughts and worries were real and relatable, and helped to show what life with anxiety can be like. Her journey throughout this story is touching and important, and by the final few chapters I couldn't help but feel proud of her for embracing who she is and what she has to face.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder ticked all of the boxes for me. It offered me characters and situations that are different from the things I usually read about in contemporary YA and it helped to educate me on things that I don't know much about. This story has a way of putting you in the characters shoes and making you think about what life for someone in their situation can be like. It's also opened my eyes to sign language and left me wanting to learn some basics because this book has made me realise how much we sadly seem to ignore it simply because the majority of us don't need it. Whilst this book is still a cute romance, it also manages to stand out and share some incredibly important messages, and I'm so glad it exists.
I recently imagined what it would be like if I couldn't use my voice for a day and spoke about it here!