Books · Reviews

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

301972014.5 stars

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.

This is the story of Steffi, who is selectively mute and Rhys, who is deaf. Their teacher introduces them to each other as Steffi knew sign language and could effectively communicate with Rhys. They start off as friends but their relationship eventually blossoms into something else.

I absolutely adored this book. Apart from being so cute and adorable, it’s also very informative about mutism, anxiety, deafness and sign language. To be honest, I didn’t really think mutism was a legitimate issue – just that some people didn’t want to talk – but this book made me understand that yes, selectively mute people can physically talk but it’s difficult for them to talk in unfamiliar situations. I don’t know how accurately mutism and deaf communities were represented but I personally found it believable. I liked that all the info about everything was given to the reader organically and not info-dumped. Another thing that I appreciate about this book was that though both characters have disabilities, they also have distinct personalities – they have more to them than just their disabilities.

Steffi was a fantastic narrator. She had a dry sense of humour and explained things with a very strong voice. Her thoughts, feelings and emotions were very realistic and easy to understand and relate to. I also liked Rhys, but I didn’t feel any sort of attachment to him. He was very insecure about his deafness, which is understandable, but he sometimes got mad over very silly reasons. Tem, Steffi’s best friend, is another great character. She was so supportive of her friend and was there for her through thick and thin. I loved the scenes of them together.

Though this may be classified as a ‘love story’ I think the ‘love’ in this book doesn’t only refer to Rhys and Steffi but both their families and friends too. Steffi’s parents are divorced so she has two families and a great relationship with both. Some of the things her mother said made me really sad but it was, I think, an honest representation of how mutism is interpreted. Rhys’s family was wonderful and I loved the scenes in their house. His family is so accustomed to his deafness that they both sign and speak simultaneously which was good for Steffi who found it hard to speak to strangers.

Friendship is also an important theme in this book. Tem and Steffi have been friends since childhood and I loved their relationship. After Steffi meets Rhys, her friendship with Tem kind of takes a back seat which sucked, but it was also something realistic and that does happen. Rhys’s friends were really sweet as well. I loved when Rhys introduced Steffi to them.

I loved how Steffi and Rhys’s relationship developed through the book. They started off as being forced to talk to each other because of their teacher to messaging each other, hanging out and then dating. There was no insta-love which made it all the more realistic. Their dialogue was very awkward at first and then they gradually became more open with each other as their relationship progressed. They didn’t immediately start spouting sonnets of undying love for each other like in a lot of other YA contemporary books.

The book is quick and easy to read, with a cute story, and a lot of information about disabilities. I highly recommend everyone to read this!


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4 thoughts on “A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

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