A Quiet Kind of Thunder has been on my tbr pile since it came out in January. I loved Sara Barnard’s first book, Beautiful Broken Things, which was a fantastic look at a female friendship group, so I’ve been looking forward to AQKOT for a while. I wasn’t disappointed.
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.
From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.
I really enjoyed AKQOT. The romance between Steff and Rhys developed in such a normal way – yes, she realises he’s attractive almost immediately, but it takes longer for actual feelings to develop – and it’s so cute, although Rhys’s insistence on being able to look after Steffi could get a bit grating (but it was also dealt with within the story, so that’s a minor point for me). I think it’s also important to note here that there is no ‘love cures anxiety’ storyline here. Steffi is getting better throughout the book but she knows it’s because of a confluence of things (one of which happens to be that she is gaining in confidence because she has someone who believes in her), and not because she now has a boyfriend. I really, *really* liked that that was made clear in the text, having read more than one YA book where love cures all mental health issues.
There was a lot I really, really liked about AQKOT but I have to mention the sex scene, whcih might just be the most realistic ‘first time’ I’ve ever read. It’s awkward and embarrassing, and neither of them is quite sure they’re doing it right, and it was wonderful to read. I also really liked Steffi working to overcome her anxiety herself, even while dealing with lots of things that were worrying her, I loved Tem, her best friend, unafraid to call Steffi on her crap, I loved Steffi’s dad and stepmum, and her mum and stepdad and half-sister, and I loved Rhys’s family too, and their easy acceptance of Steffi into their fold. I’m not sure how I feel about Rhys. As I said above, he’s a little bit over protective, and that could be quite annoying, but I did love how cute he was with Steffi.
Overall, I felt a sense of satisfaction at having read an excellent book. However, I should probably point out that I am neither deaf nor a selective mute, so I can’t really comment on how Barnard deals with characters who are. It seems very well done to me, and there are certainly references to ableism within the book (Steffi notices how most people don’t take account of Rhys’s deafness and there are mentions of her being bullied prevously for not speaking, for example), but I’m aware that people who do identify as one or both of those may differ. I’d be interested in hearing what people think of the representation here, so do leave a comment below!