Published by Pan Macmillan on January 10th 2017
Genres: Adolescence, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Family, Fiction, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Self-Help, Social Issues, Young Adult
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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
Steffi Brons is not the kind of girl most people notice. She suffered from selective mutism for years and tends to fade into the background. When Rhys Gold, a handsome deaf student with no idea how vocally silent she is, comes into her life Steffi has a way to communicate with him that doesn’t rely on her voice. Through sign language they get to know each other in a way completely new to Steffi. As their relationship blooms into more than friendship Steffi has to find out if the communication problems they share is enough to keep them together.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder is one of those books I never wanted to finish. I would have loved to stay in that world with Steffi and Rhys forever. Sara Barnard writes contemporary fiction which is realistic and relatable despite readers never facing many of issues her characters face. Steffi’s lack of speech with those she is not comfortable with felt all the right kinds of uncomfortable and awkward as she navigated high school. I was there with her as life happened to those around her whilst she was standing still.
Steffi’s relationship with Rhys was beautiful to read. It gave me all the feels and so much more. I loved how easily I could picture the ups and downs of their first love. It was paced wonderfully. This isn’t a book which lives and dies with the romantic drama. Rather the love stuff adds to the lives the characters are living. I was worried that Steffi’s romance with Rhys would magically fix her problems. And I was delighted to see that whilst being in a relationship did change things for her in a positive way – it also brought forward complications she didn’t foresee prior to dating.
This book is sweet and the relationship may be a little too saccharine for some but personally, I loved the love. I think one of the reasons why I had so much fun reading about the main characters is because of how flawed they were. Not because of Rhys’ deafness or because of the social anxiety Steffi suffered from but because of their behaviours. Rhys is often so perfect for Steffi it’s unbelievable but then he shows a side of himself that is less than flawless and it was in those moments where I really became a cheerleader for their relationship.
Another highlight of A Quiet Kind of Thunder was the parental presence throughout the novel. It is a pet peeve of mine where teens can do whatever they like whenever they want to because their parents are conveniently absent. This is not the case for Steffi and her story is stronger and more relatable for having her mother, father and their significant others having active voices. In addition to the parents, Steffi also had a great support system in her best friend and counsellor. The mental health side of this book with Steffi’s anxiety disorder was handled delicately and with a lot of care. In fact – this book handles a lot of rather sensitive issues with care. Steffi’s anxiety disorder, first loves, friendships, grief and learning to stand on your own two feet – A Quiet Kind of Thunder touches on all of these and in a way which feels natural for all the characters involved.
I’ve read quite a few YA novels revolving around selective mutism in the past few years and A Quiet Kind of Thunder is one of my favourites amongst them. The characters are interesting and I was eager to learn more about them. The love story was one I will never forget and I look forward to reading more novels from Sara Barnard in the future. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, John Green and Julie Murphy, A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a must-read YA novel for 2017.
Many thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for the review copy.