There are no spoilers in this review.
You can welcome my really bad pun right away, but seriously, this book is a quiet kind of thunder. It’s a bit too quiet, if you ask me and I really hope that, by the end of this post, you might want to add it to your TBR, because you should. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a brilliant, heartwarming, adorable book overall.
A BEAUTIFUL, CHARACTER-FOCUSED BOOK
As a whole, and as a lot of contemporaries, A Quiet Kind of Thunder really focuses on its characters and their development. The story focuses on Steffi, the main character, who is selectively mute and how, given that she knows a little bit of sign language, is paired up with the new kid in her school, who is deaf.
Basically, it sounds like the basic girl-meets boy kind of story, with a few details changed and interesting representation included.
Except that it’s not, because we get the most amazing main characters to hold this story together. It’s not perfect at any time, it’s flawed, just as how life is.
Steffi, our main character and narrator of the story, was incredibly fleshed out and realistic as a teenager, which I loved. I appreciated her and could really feel for her. She is selectively mute and also has social anxiety and, if I can’t speak for the mute representation here, the anxiety representation was on point and simply brilliant.
“Little victories are everything in a world where worst-case scenarios are on an endless loop in your head.”
Our other characters in the story are equally as adorable and three-dimensional. I just loved seeing how each had their own personalities and struggles, which made them react in different ways about the same situation, which created complexities in the stories and characters’ relationships that made the story all the more realistic. Basically, I just loved that. Rhys was such a sweet, adorable character and love interest as a whole, sensitive without falling into a trope overall, because he also had his moments.
INTERESTING AND COMPLEX FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS DYNAMICS
And people really like explanations. They like explanations and recovery stories. They like watching House and knowing a solution is coming. They like to hear that people get uncomplicatedly better.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder also gives us great family dynamics, complicated ones with two sets of parents (divorced and in new relationships), dealing with their own struggles, trying to overcome their own past as well as doing their very best to be there for Steffi. I loved that the parents were actually there, owning the story too and playing a part in Steffi’s life, as it happens for most teenagers, yet is too poorly shown in most young adult contemporaries.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder explores relationships, old and new, families and friendships, romances, as they build up and go down, as friendships are questioned and challenged, as life changes, grows, moves on. And it has positive female friendships so YES YES YES. I loved that part of the book so, very much.
GREAT DIVERSITY & REPRESENTATION
I have already mentioned it before, but this book also manages to “pack in” a diverse cast and not for the sake of being diverse. It’s just there, just like diversity is here outside in the world and I loved it very much. Added to the deaf and mute representation, something we see too poorly in young adult books, we also have the best friend’s main character, Tem, who is black. Yet, if everything is part of the story as a whole, the characters are not defined by this, at all. Diversity, the challenges faced by Rhys and Steffi to dialogue with other people, the prejudices faced by Tem as a black teenager also being a runner, were included in the story as well, which I appreciated so, very much.
I feel like I rambled a whole lot in this review, but if you need to remember one thing, it’s this: just read this book okay. If you’re a fan of contemporary stories, you will love that one. It may be lacking in plot a little bit, but it perfectly compensates with its incredible characters and character development, amazing anxiety rep and diversity overall, its moments of fluffiness and other, heavier kind of moments, too. A perfectly balanced, and short book you can read in like, a day, if you want to. It’s quiet and it’s beautiful.
Final rating: 4,5 drops!
Trigger warnings: panic attacks and anxious thoughts.
Sara Barnard, A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Published by Macmillan Children’s Books, January 12th, 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 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.
Did you read A Quiet Kind of Thunder? Do you want to? Did you read anything else by Sara Barnard?
Do you know other books with amazing anxiety rep? Or deaf representation? I’d love recs if you have some! Let me know in comments!