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.
When I heard that Sara Barnard was releasing a new book, I was beyond excited. I absolutely adored her first novel, Beautiful Broken Things, and I couldn’t wait to see what she would bring to us next. Needless to say, I was absolutely blown away by A Quiet Kind of Thunder and I didn’t think it was possible to love anything more than Beautiful Broken Things, but this one was phenomenal. It dealt with such important issues, revolved around such beautiful, unique characters, and was incredibly heartwarming and poignant. Not only is A Quiet Kind of Thunder a novel you can read in order to fulfil your resolution to read more diverse books, but it’s such a heart-stopping read that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.
I’ve read a couple of books before that involve a character that has selective mutism, most recently The Things I Didn’t Say, but Steffi’s life and how her selective mutism was portrayed is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Her social anxiety and selective mutism was conveyed in such a candour, raw way, and her character felt alive and as though she could walk right off the page. Although her selective mutism was a key part of her character, I was pleased to see that it wasn’t displayed as her defining characteristic — she was smart and funny and passionate, and simply a whole, living person. Getting to know such a beautiful character was truly a lovely experience.
Rhys was such an adorable, sweet guy and his presence in the novel honestly made it such a beautiful read. As Rhys is deaf but can talk, he feels as though he’s not really a part of the deaf world or the speaking world, but hovers on the outskirts. Seeing his pain at not being able to fit in with either community fully was reflected in Steffi’s character too, but watching them get to know one another and feeling at ease in each other’s presence was such a satisfying, cute experience. Their relationship was one of the sweetest ones I’ve ever read and it induced all the feels. I also loved how Steffi acknowledged that love wouldn’t cure her selective mutism and that this boy couldn’t fix all her problems, because I absolutely detest that trope. But Steffi and Rhys were just two characters who bonded perfectly, and their relationship was portrayed realistically and heart-wrenchingly candidly. I can’t express how much I loved it.
But this novel wasn’t just a light-hearted, fluffy read. Sure, there were some pretty adorable moments in it, but the harsh reality of social anxiety was conveyed in a raw and gritty way that allows the reader to get a glimpse into the life of someone like Steffi who struggles in some situations, and that was heartbreaking and sometimes difficult to read just because of how real it felt. There were also ups and downs in the Steffi and Rhys’s relationship, like any relationship, and that was exceptionally well-written and was portrayed genuinely and realistically. But beneath the hardships these characters face and the battles they must win, there’s undeniably an overwhelming feeling of hope that is emitted from this novel — a feeling of hope that allows us to realise that life is beautiful, not despite the bad and messy stuff, but because of it. That’s the definition of life.
Ultimately, A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a touching and poignant book about love, life, and learning that you can fight your way through any battle if you have hope and support by those that surround you. This is such an important book that sheds some light onto social anxiety and selective mutism, as well as introduces us to the deaf community and allows us to get a glimpse into the lives of two beautiful, vibrant people in particular. This book will leave you breathless. I’m already dying to get my hands on whatever Sara Barnard writes next!
As a part of the Australian blog tour for A Quiet Kind of Thunder, I was lucky enough to receive a couple of pre-answered questions from the author about her latest novel! Take a look:
What are some of your favourite lines from A Quiet Kind of Thunder?
I do enjoy Tem’s list of puns after a certain point in the story… they were a lot of fun to come up with!
Who are your biggest influences right now?
Right now I would say it’s the YA community in general, particularly the UKYA community. They are so supportive and helpful, and I feel very lucky to be a part of it.
To celebrate the release of A Quiet Kind of Thunder, I’m also holding a giveaway! To win a copy of A Quiet Kind of Thunder, kindly provided by Pan Macmillan Australia, you can either retweet my giveaway tweet on Twitter or comment below with your email address! The competition is open internationally and ends on January 31st. Good luck!
Have you read A Quiet Kind of Thunder or Beautiful Broken Things? Have you read any other books with main characters who are deaf or have selective mutism? What are your favourite books that revolve around themes of mental health? Let’s discuss!
Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!