A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Pan Macmillian Australia
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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.
I was provided an Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for a review by Pan Macmillian Australia. This in no way affects my thoughts.
Q & A W I T H S A R A B A R N A R D
Sara Barnard was kind enough to pre-answer some questions for the blog tour!
What are some of your all-time favourite reads? And what are your must-haves?
“Station Eleven is my favourite book of all time. My go-to recommends are Slaughterhouse 5, The Poisonwood Bible, Oryx & Crake and On The Jellicoe Road. I recently read the YA book Girl In Pieces and it absolutely blew me away.”
Was there a specific inspiration that brought A Quiet Kind of Thunder into life, or was it a multitude of things?
“A few years ago I watched a documentary that featured a young girl with selective mutism, which was something I’d never come across before. The documentary showed all the work that the school and the girl’s parents were putting in to try and help the girl, and it made me wonder what would happen to a child who didn’t have that level of support. What would become of them when they became a teenager? That’s where Steffi came from.”
You’ve dedicated this novel to ‘the quiet ones’. Could you elaborate on that?
“I’ve always been shy, one of the designated “quiet ones”. It can be tough. It’s easy to be overlooked or dismissed, because a lot of the time people assume that if you don’t talk a lot you don’t have anything to say. But you don’t have to be a chatterbox to have a voice, and that is what Steffi represents. I hope this book resonates with other people who have had these kinds of experiences in their own lives.”
B O O K R E V I E W
When going into this book, I was worried that it was going to follow the age old trope that we see over and over again in YA books dealing with Mental Illness – that romance cures everything. Not only is this trope super problematic and very far from the truth, it also downplays the seriousness that MI can have on someone’s life. I shouldn’t have worried have as Sara Barnard’s new release is so evidently well researched and written, with the book calling out these problematic tropes for what they are and portraying a strong depiction of anxiety, MI and disabilities.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder follows Steffi, who, at a young age, was diagnosed with selective mutism and now lives with severe anxiety. She meets Rhys, our other main protagonist who is Deaf, when she is roped into showing him around the school due to her basic knowledge of British Sign Language.
Everything in this book works so well together – although it is primarily a romance and a look into Mental Illness and the D/deaf community, Rhys and Steffi are still developed as complex and multifaceted characters in their own right. I also really enjoyed the strong friendship between Steffi and Tem and it was so refreshing to see a female best-friendship in a YA world that very rarely focuses on them. This book also touches on racism experienced by People of Colour (in the form of exploring Tem’s background) and the only thing I wish was that this particular element was expanded on more throughout the story, especially since Rhys is also PoC.
The romance was well-developed and quite organic and built up nicely throughout the book. I liked how that although the romance was sweet and reflected the joys of first love, the book was very honest in dealing with Steffi and Rhys’ problems, boundaries and obstacles with the relationship. Their desire to be the best person they could be for each other provided some conflict in the narrative, ultimately conflict that made their relationship stronger for it.
All in all, this was a great addition to the YA contemporary category, with strong, diverse characters, an interesting plot, a lot of feels (come on, this is mandatory) and a writing style that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.
Until next time,