Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Sara Barnard

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.



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.

β€œLittle 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.



And peopleΒ reallyΒ like explanations. They like explanations and recoveryΒ stories. They like watching House and knowing a solution is coming. They like to hear that people get uncomplicatedlyΒ better.Β 

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.



I have already mentioned it before, but this book also manages to β€œpack 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:Β  4,5 drops!

Trigger warnings: panic attacks and anxious thoughts.

Sara Barnard, A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Β 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!

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

53 thoughts on “Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Sara Barnard

  1. Can’t wait to read this one. I am always looking for anxiety and Deaf rep as you already know! Wonderful review, and not ramble-y whatsoever πŸŒΈπŸ’• ( just made me want to read it all the more! )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a wonderful review, Marie! ❀

    I'm always eager to read books with a great anxiety rep, so I can't wait to read this one, and I love character-driven stories. Thank you so much for pointing out the diversity in this as well, seeing people address it always makes my heart warm. :')

    I'm definitely going to bump this book up on my TBR now, thank you for reminding me of it. πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you so much ❀ ❀ I hope you'll get to read this wonderful book, I honestly feel like it could be the kind of book you would love. Fingers crossed πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much, Lily! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Marie! I haven’t read this book but you’ve peaked my interest on why the characters really connected with you. I was looking for a good character novel because I’m about to start writing again and like to see what other readers connect with. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh that’s so great that you are writing again, I will be looking forward to your work πŸ˜€ I hope you’ll give this one a try and will love it πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review for this book Marie. πŸ™‚ I feel like when it comes to contemporaries more and more are becoming very character driven, which is great to see because I love character driven contemporaries. I’ve heard some great things about Sara Barnard’s books, and the fact that this has some incredible representation in, I’ve rarely seen books which feature deaf characters and never one which has featured a selectively mute character, means I need to add it to my to-read list.
    Again great review, πŸ˜€ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, Beth! ❀ I agree and I love seeing character-driven contemporaries so, very much, they're amazing to read ❀
      I hope you'll get around to this one sometime soon πŸ˜€ and thank you so much! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This was the last book I read in 2017, and it left me feeling fantastic. So sweet, so adorable, so heartwarming. I loved these two and couldn’t get enough of them. I thought Barnard did an incredible job capturing those feelings of first love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh I am so happy you enjoyed this book so much ❀ ❀ It was such a feel-good book and yes, it did capture wonderfully that first love feeling ❀ Did you read any of the author's other books? πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad you liked this book Marie, and I’m honestly surprised I haven’t heard much about it thus far. I love all the diverse elements that you mentioned, as well as just how complex the relationships and characters are. Definitely a contemporary I need to read – and truly, a quiet kind that has the impact of thunder. Lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m surprised this doesn’t get more hype – I guess it’s a bit of a quiet book haha, unfortunately. It deserves more praise for sure, because it had amazing diverse characters and adorable relationships, too. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts about it once you read it ❀
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! ❀


    1. I am SO SAD that this book doesn’t get more hype. It should, it was such a beautiful story and the characters were amazing ❀
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Nicole! πŸ˜€


  7. I love this book! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It is a rather plotless story in that its more slice of life rather than going from A to B. I find I’m enjoying books more for the characters nowadays I guess. ❀️ Great review Marie, if I hadn’t already read it I would want to now.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Although it might be lacking in plot, I think if you go into reading a book knowing it is more about the characters and the themes it is okay as a read? I like the sound of the main character being so developed but especially that the secondary and other characters are just as realistic and present in the novel. I’m all for family dynamics being discussed and explored in my reads as well. I haven’t read anything by this author before but this sounds like a good read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes definitely! With this kind of book, I expected it to be very character-driven, so I wasn’t disappointed at all, I loved it so much πŸ˜€
      I hope you’ll give this book a try sometime, Olivia, and that you will love it πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I actually love character driven stories as long as they are done well! I heard amazing things about this book and I need to read more mental health books so yes I am excited!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Okay, so yes I added this to my TBR πŸ˜€ It definitely seems worth reading. And I don’t think that I have ever read a book with deaf and mute representation so that would be good to read about.
    And always a big yes to characters driven stories πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES YES YES SIM AHHHHH. I’m so, so happy right now, I don’t know but it seems like the kind of book you’d enjoy? I hope I’m not wrong haha πŸ™‚ I really loved it so, so much. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I read Beautiful Broken Things… two years ago I think? I really loved it so I’ve been meaning to read this one as well. I’m glad to hear you loved it, Marie! I’d definitely recommend BBT if you loved this one. I don’t remember it that well, but it really touched me πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Beautiful Broken Things, but I really, REALLY want to read more from the author, so I have it on my TBR as well πŸ˜€ I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it! I hope you’ll get to this one soon, I’d love to hear what you think of it πŸ™‚ ❀
      Thank you so much, Michelle! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. When it comes to contemporaries, this is easily one of my favorites. I love deaf / mute represenation – it’s also why I love the show Switched at Birth so much – so on that front.. this book was everything I needed it to be. I also loved how each chapter began with the sign of the number! Like – awesome!

    I need more books with deaf / mute rep though. I hope we’ll get more of those in the future. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH YES, I love Switched At Birth so, very much just as well, it’s one of my favorite shows! ❀
      I really loved this book so, very much – you're so right, we need more books with deaf / mute rep πŸ™‚
      Thank you so, so much for stopping by Kathy! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

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