Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Published: January 12 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – Booktopia – Macmillan’s Children’s Books
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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.
** I’m participating in a Blog Tour hosted by Pan Macmillan and received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own **
Trigger warnings: anxious thoughts, panic attacks
If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you know I always say I tend to stay away from YA romantic-contemporary because it’s just not usually my thing. When I was asked if I wanted to review A Quiet Kind of Thunder I was hesitant, but since it was also dealing with issues such as deafness, anxiety and selective mutism I decided I wanted to give it a go. I’ve rarely read books with deaf characters and as someone who suffers anxiety I always like to see how it’s handled. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised with A Quiet Kind of Thunder. It was such a refreshing change and had everything a contemporary should.
I really enjoyed Steffi and Rhys as characters. They were brilliant on their own and together. Again, it’s not often that I find myself enjoying romances in books but I found their relationship to be incredibly adorable. I loved being in Steffi’s head because I related to her so much. Rhys was super sweet and adorable but not in the Nice Guy™ way that normally comes across in YA. He was just a genuinely good person, which I loved. He was sensitive and caring and showed emotion and it was so great seeing that in a male character. I can definitely see a lot of younger people who read this book falling in love with him.
Both Steffi and Rhys refused to let others define them and hold them back and I really appreciated seeing that. There wasn’t Instalove as such, but I did feel as though there was a bit of Instalike. They made some decisions that I found frustrating, but they’re teenagers who are trying to prove everyone’s expectations of them wrong so I understand where their choices came from. The best thing though is that book didn’t fall into the trope of “The Love Interest Cures All”. Steffi and Rhys both helped each a other a lot, but it was by no means an instant fix. Steffi’s counselling and medication played a part too and it was fantastic seeing that.
My favourite thing about A Quiet Kind of Thunder was how well all the issues were handled. I can’t comment on the deaf or mute rep, but it did seem respectful. It really helped more understand more what being selectively mute is and it actually helped me realise that I was potentially going through the same thing as a kid. I loved that it included sign language as well. The characters weren’t solely the things that made them diverse. They weren’t just their skin colours or their illnesses. I think we need more books like that. The anxiety rep was handled amazingly. I teared up quiet a few times because it hit way too close to home.
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.
Another thing I loved about this book was the family and friendship dynamics. There are definitely no absent tropes here. The friendship and family relationships aren’t perfect, but that’s what makes it realistic. Steffi’s mum definitely wasn’t the nicest person in regards to Steffi’s mutism though and she did some cruel things that could potentially be triggering to try and “force” Steffi to stop being mute. Apart from that I really loved seeing how everyone interacted together. Steffi’s relationship with her best friend Tem was wonderful. They had fights but that’s what happens with friends and it was great seeing it portrayed. I feel like friendships can be so one dimensional in YA sometimes, but that wasn’t the case here. Despite being a side character Tem was probably one of my favourites. She had such a strong and defined personality and was really developed. There’s also sex positivity in here, which is something else that’s extremely important.
The only slight problem I had with this book is that it felt like bad things kept happening for no reason. I have no problem with angst-y moments in books, but there needs to be a reason for it. These things happened just for the sake of them happening, if that makes sense? They didn’t really add anything to the plot, it was just to cause the characters unnecessary pain.
Overall, this was a quick and wonderful read that I definitely recommend everyone checking out. If you’re a fan of contemporaries then I feel like this could potentially become a new favourite for you! I’m really glad I decided to read it and I’ll definitely be checking out Sara Barnard’s debut book Beautiful Broken Things.
Here’s the thing about anxiety: it’s not rational. It’s not rational, but it’s still real, and it’s still scary, and that’s okay.