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Title: A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Author: Sarah Barnard
Paperback: 307 pages
Published: January 12th 2017 by Macmillan Children’s Books
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
Whilst I loved this book, I’ve found myself knocking off a star for unresolved subplots and minor characters who only appear once.
Rhys’s friends, for example; they appear once, and are then never spoken of again. Also Meg. She seemed pretty cool and I wanted to see more of her.
Sadly, we didn’t get that.
What we did get though, was some brilliant character development through Steffi. Before reading this book, I only had a basic idea of what selective mutism is. It was interesting from that perspective; mutism isn’t a widely spoken of disability, and this book did a great job of explaining it.
She starts out shy and ends up still being shy and having social anxiety – however, she has found her voice. She can use her voice when she needs to. And that’s the main plot.
Also, I loved the relationship between Steffi and Rhys. Not gonna lie, it did feel a little bit like insta-love, but it was adorable and I felt that they genuinely loved each other. The love also started out as friendship, which earns bonus points!
At points, I did feel like the book revolved around the relationship – it felt like Steffi and Rhys were only interested in one another, and all of the other characters faded into the background. I get that in the early stages of a relationship, the couple do tend to focus on one another; this one felt like it was going a little overboard, but that’s just my personal feelings.
Steffi has a best friend, Tem (short for September), who feels a little bit like a token character and makes up the racial diversity of the novel. Actually, she does have a boyfriend, Karam, for a bit and he’s Asian, which is a little bit more diversity, but honestly, there wasn’t a whole load.
Steffi and Tem speak about things other than boys, I think – I don’t remember very well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I read the book! The conversations that I remember were about Rhys and Karam, however they did talk about other things – they pass the Bechdel Test!
Plenty of themes are explored in this book – I just think that maybe too many were taken on. Disability, racism, broken families, death, sex; a lot was covered in what is a relatively short book. It does all link together quite well, but I felt rushed when reading the novel.
In all, I did really enjoy this book – it just didn’t tie up enough loose ends for me. I will admit, I cried in the final scene at the graveyard, and smiled at parts and laughed out loud at parts. It just isn’t quite up there on my all-time favourites list (But it’s probably in my Top 30).
Any other thoughts on this one?