Monday, January 8, 2018

Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 9th, 2018
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 1/4/18 to 1/6/18
400 pages

A girl who can’t speak and a boy who can’t hear go on a journey of self-discovery and find support with each other in this gripping, emotionally resonant novel from bestselling author Sara Barnard. Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Jandy Nelson.

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’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 help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers 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. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I had quite a tough time reviewing this, as I really liked this book, yet didn’t really know what to say about it (In other words, it’s one of those). Because of that, I’ll be listing out my likes and dislikes instead of a usual written out review.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder handles Steffi’s struggle with her selective mutism and anxiety with respect and care. The plot mainly revolves around her meeting Rhys, who is deaf, and her relationship with him. We’re also introduced to her fun best friend, Tem, but unfortunately has opted to skip high school for college classes (though note this takes place in the UK, where I think the equivalent is Form 8?). Throughout the novel, Steffi learns how to use her voice, without physically using it.

(Obviously, I cannot judge the accuracy of the representation for either selective mutism or deafness, but to me, I thought it was sensibly done.)

Things I very much enjoyed:
  • The way Steffi’s selective mutism was portrayed. Steffi gets self-conscious BECAUSE when she does talk every so often, everyone makes a HUGE deal about it. And it shouldn’t be a huge deal. Sometimes she talks, and sometimes she doesn’t. Everyone is always looking for a cause, when it really isn’t as simple as that.
  • The message about how speaking isn’t the only way to communicate. Rhys uses BSL (British Sign Language) to communicate with Steffi, who also knows it as she’s been learning BSL as an alternative to speaking.
  • STEFFI AND RHYS’ RELATIONSHIP. It is adorable and I love them. I feel like I only kept reading because of how cute they were together.
  • Also, PRO-SEX. Actually, PRO-SAFE SEX.

Things I wasn’t so sure about:
  • Other than Steffi meeting Rhys, I felt like there wasn’t much of a plot to keep me going. But then it picked up in the latter half.
  • This book focuses more on character development, and bringing awareness to both Steffi’s and Rhys’ struggles. Though I didn’t mind this, at times it did lead me to be bored. I also felt like some things were repeatedly mentioned, but I suppose it is for emphasis.
  • I felt that Tem acted a bit selfish by the end. She mentioned how Steffi never checked in on her, but I didn’t really find that to be the case throughout the book? Also, Tem never even made it clear that things weren’t okay. I mean I know you need some sort of drama, but she started to annoy me a bit.

Overall, this was not only an adorable read, but also eye-opening as well. I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary!
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