I very much loved Sara Barnard’s first novel; Beautiful Broken Things – an honest portrayal of how the past can affect your present and the fragile nature of female friendships. Therefore, I was super excited when I learned she had a new book due to come out. As soon as it was released this book was purchased and devoured and I loved it so.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder follows Steffi who suffers from selective mutism and severe anxiety, among other issues. How she copes day to day and what happens when she meets Rhys – a deaf boy.
This review contains no spoilers!
I wouldn’t say I highest of expectations going into this book – although I had some having already highly rated the previous book from this author. Another factor that instantly drew me to this title was the various issues that it dealt with; the main character Steffi suffers from selective mutism and severe anxiety. I can’t remember having read anything from the POV of someone that suffers from selective mutism. So although I do not suffer from it and do not know anyone that does – my opinion on how well it was portrayed isn’t the most relevant. However, I can tell that the subject was handled with care and a lot of research by the author.
The main character Steffi, is one of the most relatable characters in YA fiction that I’ve come across in awhile. How she copes day-to-day is one of the main focus points of the book and in some aspects, it was like looking in the mirror. She shines quietly through in her small victories and emphasising how much they matter. Her selective mutism obviously being her biggest challenge, was not quickly fixed with the introduction of a boy (thank you, thank you, thank you), and they struggle with their issues together, instead of automatically fixing each other.
Although I can’t relate nor accurately analyse how well the selective mutism was portrayed; I can through personal experience easily relate to some of her anxiety. Some of the walls she built and the challenges she faced, as I was reading I literally pointed at the words on the page and whispered ‘I’ve done that.’ It was very carefully laid out on the pages and it was so honest and so raw and so, so relatable.
The second main issue the book tackles is the main love interest, Rhys, is deaf. We get to see the struggles he faces day-to-day and find out the frustrations they have to deal with to those who don’t understand. It’s very enlightening. It definitely opens the eyes of those that don’t have to deal day-to-day with these issues.
Rhys as a character was very believable. He’s funny and cute but also gets frustrated and withdrawn. Which all makes sense. He didn’t instantly fix Steffi, nor did she instantly fix him (obviously), and I want to repeat that this is SO IMPORTANT.
Honestly, this book is a wonder and even the chapter headers are accompanied with the British Sign Language equivalent. There’s a breakdown of the alphabet and basic numbers on the front and back pages and I just loved this book. I completely urge you all to read this.
Have you read A Quiet Kind of Thunder – what did you think of it?