A Quiet Kind of Thunder is the first book I’ve read by Sara Barnard and it’s left me wanting to read more of her books. I LOVED IT. I managed to nab a copy in a Goodreads trade with another blogger, and I’m so happy I did! Sara Barnard is going to YALC this year and I can’t wait to meet her!
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.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Story & Themes
The first thing I want to point out is how incredibly realistic and relatable this book is. There’s nothing that seems too forced or extreme – everything that happens could actually, realistically happen. The characters and the story are so relatable too; especially Steffie’s anxiety. I don’t suffer from anxiety too much but I know a lot of people who do, and it’s made me really want to buy them all a copy so they can read it!
The subjects of mutism and deafness are very well-written too. I learned so much and it’s made me aware of how deaf and mute people feel in society. There’s a kind of wall between the ‘hearing world’ and the ‘deaf world’, and the book puts into perspective how deaf people feel when they’re trying to keep up with everyone’s conversations.
I really love the BSL element! Steffie and Rhys had their own ‘secret language’, where they communicated through BSL, writing things down and passing it back and forth, and using online chat. These were all presented in a cool way, too, with the BSL bits in bold and the online messages in chat bubbles. It’s great to see some good representation, especially in a YA book! There were even bits throughout the book where it teaches us how to sign things:
Family & Divorce
One thing that bothers me sometimes in YA fiction is how characters deal with the divorce of their parents. In pretty much every single YA book I’ve read in which the parents are divorced, the main character is completely broken because of it for years. Like, it could be 6 years later and they’re still broken and hate to think about it. Okay, this might be true for some people, but more often than not, I think most people just learn to live with it and it’s okay pretty quickly. (I speak from experience – my parents split when I was about 12, and I learned to live with it pretty quickly because I knew it made them happier.)
Luckily, this was the case in this book. Steffie’s parents are divorced and it was treated like a normal thing that she is completely okay with. She was happy to alternate her time between her mum and dad’s house, and it was interesting to see how different the dynamic was between both of her families. It was lovely to read a story for once where the family divorce had absolutely no bearing on the story; they’re divorced and that’s just how it is.
Unlike some (okay, most) YA romances, this one actually felt so real. It was slow and built up from a very close friendship. The way it was described seemed exactly how real relationships work and feel. Their relationship isn’t perfect and Steffie constantly had her worries that it wouldn’t work out. These worries were intensified by her anxiety, but a lot of her worries were completely normal that I think everyone feels in a new relationship. I loved seeing a relationship that wasn’t all sparks and gross romance; it was normal and human but still adorable.
I was SO happy that the story didn’t have the “love cures all disabilities” trope. It was about them learning to live with each other’s difficulties, and these difficulties were what they loved about each other. Not once did they didn’t try to change each other, and there was not a single point when they seemed “cured” by love. Eurgh.
I seriously can’t think of anything bad to say about this book whatsoever. (I even tried – I sat and attempted to come up with SOMETHING negative to say. But I just couldn’t think of a single thing.) I love it so much and I want to buy a copy for everyone I know! I can’t wait to read some more by Sara Barnard, and hopefully meet her at YALC in July!
Click the links below to buy a copy of A Quiet Kind of Thunder, or read about it on Goodreads: