A Quiet Kind of Thunder
UK Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books.
UK Release: 12th January 2017
Steffi doesn't talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn't a lightening strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.
Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she’s been silent for 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 is a lovely coming of age story that girls of all ages would enjoy. Covering many issues such as anxiety, social situations, sex and first love, it really opens the readers eyes to the world around them. It reveals how everyone is dealing with their own problems, and I liked how this story highlighted that what are mundane tasks for some, are huge achievements for others.
Stephanie is a selective mute. Her voice comes and goes, controlled by her fears and social anxiety. But when she meets Rhys, a handsome, confident new student, her pea-sized world suddenly grows so much bigger.
Rhys is deaf, but he doesn't let that stop him living a normal life. Bit by bit, he helps bring Stephanie out of her shell, showing both her and the world that she does have a voice. All it takes is that one person willing willing to listen…
I don’t generally read a lot of YA Contemporary, but after I read Sara Barnard’s debut, Beautiful Broken Things, I knew she was an author to watch out for. Her books are so relatable, echoing many thoughts and feelings I myself had as a teenager. I can’t imagine any girl not enjoying her books, and A Quiet Kind of Thunder proves her skill as a writer only continues to grow.
This story follows the life of seventeen-year-old Stephanie Brons. As a character who has suffered with anxiety all her life, being inside her head offered a unique insight into her day to day struggles. I was really moved by how many seemingly ordinary tasks were so difficult for her, things such as browsing in shops, buying bus tickets, or simply ordering food. Every time she succeeded, the triumph she felt was heart warming.
However what struck me most about this book was how it emphasised that all the changes that happened, happened mostly because of Stephanie herself. Through her own desires and need to take control of her life, she made an effort to put herself in situations that would challenge her. Was it horrible. Yes. Did it always work. No. Why? Because anxiety is irrational and thats all the explanation needed.
I also liked how the reader knew Stephanie was taking medication, but both her boyfriend and best friend didn’t. I felt Stephanie's reasons for keeping such a secret were honest and justifiable, and this made her very true as a character. However her shame that she needed to rely on medication was obvious, but I liked how by the end of the book she owned up to the truth about it, accepting that medicine was indeed making her life better - and that there was nothing wrong with admitting it.
In regards to Rhys, he was a very sweet sort of love interest, but his mood swings began to annoy me toward the end. I didn't like how he made every problem about him. Still I enjoyed his and Stephanie's relationship as a whole, and the awkwardness of their sexual explorations cracked me up in its honesty. While not graphic, the sex scenes were truthful, making comedy of the mess, sweat and fumbling, “can’t find the entrance” moments.
The other characters were also well written, especially Stephanie and Rhys’ parents. What I loved about them was how the current me sympathised and agreed with them, but the teenage girl inside me got all riled up and irritated. I wanted to roll my eyes and rant about how the parents “just didn't get it” which won this story some major points.
However, as much as I enjoyed this book, about half-way through I began to feel that this was just another romance, coming of age story. If Stephanie wasn’t mute, and Rhys not deaf, their romance and struggles wouldn't have been nearly as interesting. Therefore this was definitely more a plot of circumstances and while I did enjoy it very much, I didn't love it quite as much as Beautiful Broken Things.
All in all though this is an empowering story that I think a lot of girls - both young and old - will relate to and find comfort in. 4 stars!