Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard


A Quiet Kind of ThunderGenre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Published: January 12 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Pages: 320
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – BooktopiaMacmillan’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.

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** 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. 




Have you read A Quiet Kind of Thunder or is it on your TBR?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I hope you’re all having a fantastic day.

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40 thoughts on “Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

  1. This is a wonderful review. I like the the rep seems respectful and that it’s handled well and that the characters are more than their illness. That’s so good to hear! I might have to check this one out. thanks for the review 🙂

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook


  2. Great review for this book Lauren. I seem to have seen it around loads on WordPress and everyone seems to really love it so I’m glad to see it was the same for you. Also I’m really really glad this wasn’t a case of insta-love, and that it wasn’t as case of ‘The Love Interest Cures All’ I really hate it when that happens in books because it just isn’t realistic and it can sometimes undermine the struggle the characters go through you know?
    Anyways this sounds like a wonderful book, and one I will definitely be adding to my to-read list as well! 😀


  3. Yay your review! I’ve been looking forward to your thoughts on this one. And it’s official I need to get my hands on this book and read it. It’s so great to hear that it doesn’t have the love cures all trope. That is right up there with love triangles for me. It’s also great that it handled a lot of what it was covering so well. It seems like an incredible book and I can’t wait to read it for myself. Great review as always, Lauren! 😁♥


  4. I loved reading your review, Lauren! I just heard about this book and recently added it to my TBR, I am so thrilled to hear you liked it and that the relationships are so well-developed in that one.Also, it’s always scary in these kind of books to fall into the love cures it all trope, and I’m glad that didn’t happen here 🙂


    1. Thanks so much, Marie ♥ It was so refreshing to see and I’m so glad it was affirmed that Steffi was starting to feel better from a combination of things because that’s much more how like it is in real life. I think you’ll like this one so I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts when you get to it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review, Lauren! I’m so glad you liked this book as much as I did. I agree it was so refreshing and just what contemporary YA needs. The family and friendships were so realistic, and I really liked that the characters weren’t just their illnesses/disabilities/skin colours, too. 😁 Great job! X


  6. Sounds like this needs to be added to my TBR. I love the quotes you included about anxiety. Glad to hear you liked this one 🙂


  7. Great review, Lauren! I agree with you re: the romance – I wasn’t expecting to really love them, but I did. I just could tell that they’re good for each other in ways that typical high school crushes might not be. I also really loved the friendship as you said. ❤

    Do you reckon you'll pick up Sara Barnard's previous work? I'm curious but I need a bit more push either way.


    1. Thanks, Reg ♥ Yes! Definitely! It really was developed well. I loved how there were problems, but they’d talk about it and try and work things out.

      It’s been on my TBR forever now and this has definitely pushed me to read it a bit more. I’m not gonna like stop what I’m doing and read it immediately though, y’know? Haha.


  8. I like it when romance doesn’t kill characters! Often, a pair is gonna be great together but lack depth on their own, or one is more developed than the other. It’s nice there’s a good balance in this one. Thanks for mentioning the anxiety in the story, I’m sorry it rang close to home *hugs* but if it did make you feel so much, it must have been well written. Fab review ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reading the blurb alone made me interested in he book. Your review sold it to me. Especially when you said “The best thing though is that book didn’t fall into the trope of ‘The Love Interest Cures All’ ” because as someone who also has her own issues with anxiety, I’m always SUPER VERY VERY VERY VERY worried that a book will fall into that trope, so I’m glad that this one does not fall into that.

    If you’re looking for books that deal with anxiety, I recommend Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow. Personally, I think the way the author portrayed mental health in that book was really well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve heard such amazing things about this book already & can’t wait to get my hands on it! I’m so happy you feel that it explores mental health in such a respectful way and doesn’t fall into those tropes we so often see. I have a feeling this is gonna be one of my 2017 faves!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ohh great review I am also not a huge contemporary fan either, but there was a few contemporary books that I have really loved and enjoy. After reading your review I might check this book out. I am really intrigued about this book so. Thank you so much for your awesome post.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This sounds like something I need to pick up.
    I have anxiety on a large scale. I get panicked thinking of leaving the house. I have routines that, if I don’t follow, make me feel uneasy. I watch the same shows, eat the same food, and try to live a safe life. The meds help…but not as much as I’d like. It makes it to where if I HAVE to leave the house, I can…but I normally put things off until I have no choice.
    I’m lucky that I don’t get panic attacks, but I tend to identify with and know people with similar problems. Maybe it’s because I get it: my ex had worse anxiety than me and use to pick at himself when nervous. I had another who was a cutter. I don’t know why I started telling you all this except for the fact that I am pretty sure you understand what I mean since you also have anxiety.
    What frustrates me the most is people who claim I’m lazy or a homebody…they don’t get it. But I have a feeling you do. It’s one of the reasons I like blogging so much.
    I always appreciate someone sharing that part of themselves bc people really don’t understand anxiety when they don’t have it. 😘


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