After reading Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard, which told the story of friendships, love and hurt, A Quiet Kind of Thunder explores the world of a girl who is a selective mute and boy who is deaf and follows their journey of self-discovery.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.
One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book is how I got to learn about the difficulties that Steffi and Rhys have to face throughout their day-to-day lives. I have not read a book before that tackles the issue of a person being deaf, I have no read a book where characters use sign language, so this was a book that brought new issues to light for me.
I also loved the characters and even though I don’t know what they’re going through, I can partly relate to Steffi’s social anxiety and how she’s scared to talk in case people judge her on anything that she says. I thought it was beautiful how she used BSL to communicate with the people around her and how she also used BSL when she was actually verbally communicating because the BSL was her comfort zone. I found Rhys to be adorable and so supporting of Steffi and her struggles, whilst also trying to support himself in a completely different environment where no one can speak sign language apart from the support teacher and Steffi.
“Here are three separate but similar things: shyness, introversion and social anxiety. You can have one, two or all three of these things simultaneously. A lot of the time people thing they’re all the same thing, but that’s just not true. Extroverts can be shy, introverts can be bold, and a condition like anxiety can strike whatever kind of social animal you are.
Lots of people are shy. Shy is normal. A bit of anxiety is normal. Throw the two together, add some brain-signal error – a NO ENTRY sign on the neural highway from my brain to my mouth perhaps, though no one really knows – and you have me.”
― Sara Barnard,
This book actually made me realise that sign language should be a compulsory subject that is taught from primary school to high school because I think it’s an important thing that everyone should know. It would mean that deaf people can communicate with everyone, rather than specialists. It made me realise that I don’t want deaf people to feel like they have to live in their own personal bubble because they can’t really speak to anyone. So yeah, we should all have to learn sign language.
Apart from the characters of Rhys, Steffi and Tem (who is an awesome secondary character. She is Steffi’s best friend and has been supportive of Steffi her whole life and just wants someone to love them both) the plot was also amazing. I loved the slow build up to the romance, I liked that it wasn’t insta-love. There was a friendship first, the getting-to-know-each other part and then Steffi started to question how she felt. That’s normally how a romance starts and I loved it.
Barnard is an awesome writer who hasn’t failed to entertain me yet with her two brilliant novels. A Quiet Kind of Thunder has brilliant characters, an amazing plot line full of ups and downs and important messages throughout. If you’re going to read one new YA novel, let it be this one. I highly reccommend this.
Thank you to Sara Barnard for writing such a beautiful piece of literaure.