Title: A Quiet Kind Of Thunder
Author: Sara Barnard
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publication Date: 12th January 2017
Publisher: Macmillian Children’s Books
Summary: Steffi doesn’t talk.
Rhys can’t hear.
They understand each other perfectly.
Love isn’t always a lightning strike. Sometimes 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.
For a long time, i kept my eye out for Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard. It was a huge book a few years ago at the time of release and even was chosen to be a part of Zoella’s WHSmith Book Club. However, i lost interest and the story seemed a little too young for me and i forgot about it. When A Quiet Kind Of Thunder was announced, my ears pricked up again at the thought of the author i let go a few years back. This storyline sounded a little bit more up my alley and really did intrigue me. I had to get around to reading it ASAP.
I wanted to go in to this story as i do with a lot of YA contemporaries, only knowing the basics. I was aware that Steffi and Rhys both had communication difficulties, what those were i had no idea and how the story would play out was a complete surprise to me. In all honestly, i’m incredibly surprised and this is easily one of the best and most pleasant YA contemporaries i’ve had the pleasure of reading.
First of all, these characters are wonderfully flawed and incredibly real. I feel like a lot of the time with contemporary YA, authors try to make it ‘relateable’ but in fact, end up so far from relatable its funny. Rhys is deaf, and has been for what i am assuming is his whole life. Steffi has been mute her whole life and neither know any different, and they just so happen to fall in to each others lives. They help each other, and learn with each other and it gives a true sense of what a first relationship as a teenager is like. It’s awkward and exciting and romantic and everything that i remember my first relationships to be. It felt incredibly real among these characters who were very different from me.
Whilst i’m on the topic of this book being realistic. There was sex! In a Young Adult story! Finally! I cannot tell you how many YA books i’ve read and i’ve gotten to the end and just think ‘are you telling me no awkward fumbling happened between these two seventeen year olds?!’ Okay sometimes first relationships do end up like that, however A Quiet Kind Of Thunder wonderfully took us through the first sexual experiences of these virgins and i’m thanking the author, publishers and just about everyone else in the world that this has finally been written! It made it a whole lot more relatable and made me connect with the book so much more that an accurate representation of a relationship was being portrayed.
As both characters use BSL (British Sign Language), there is a heavy emphasis on it throughout the book. This made it incredibly unique and interesting, and to be honest made me want to learn more about BSL (i know very limited, to the point i can say numbers, ‘yes’ and ‘sorry’!). Not only did Barnard spell out each and every conversation between Steffi and Rhys, she often put descriptions in of how they were saying words with their hands. It made it such an interesting read, i cannot praise it enough. There are so many ways corners could have been cut doing this, but they weren’t.
Another thing that shocked me was the writing, it makes me wish that i’d picked up Beautiful Broken Things a while ago, because i really have been missing out on the wonderfully easy writing style. There’s no massive drama in this story, nothing except two ordinary teenagers living their lives and learning how to live with their issues. If you want something that’s light and fluffy, with very few faults, you’ll whiz through A Quiet Kind Of Thunder.