My rating in stars: 4 stars
My rating in words: I really liked it.
What it’s about:
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.
My thoughts (Spoiler-free):
“Here are three separate but similar things: shyness, introversion and social anxiety. You can be one, two or all three of these things simultaneously. A lot of the time people think they’re all the same thing but that’s just not true.”
Well, this was a lovely little contemporary story. I definitely recommend A Quiet Kind of Thunder if you’re looking for any or all of the following: a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, accurate representation of mental illness and of hearing disability, a super sweet and healthy romance, positive female friendships and realistic family interactions.
Honestly, the blurb for A Quiet Kind of Thunder immediately drew me in. A main character that doesn’t speak is what intrigued me most of all. Steffi has been a selective mute, which is brought on by her severe anxiety, for most of her life. She has gone through and is still undergoing a lot of therapy and has also started taking medication. Which is something I also really appreciated: the positive and honest way medication is brought into the story. Since the synopsis focuses heavily on the romance as well, I feared that it may have become one of those ‘love cures all’ kind of things, and I was so relieved to see it was not at all! Any progress Steffi makes throughout the book is clearly not just because of romance, but a combination of the medication, therapy and continued support.
Rhys is another wonderful character. He is hearing impaired and has transfered to Steffi’s public school from a sensory school. He’s a very nice, smart character with his own dreams and fears and communicates through BSL (British Sign Language), though he can read lips as well. It was interesting to learn a bit more about BSL though – and a fun little extra was that all the chapter numbers were shown in BSL as well. Since Steffi is one of the only ones at his new school who knows any sign language, they are kind of placed together. Through their shared form of communication, they get to know eachother and form a tight friendship which eventually evolves into something more.
Though the romance between Steffi and Rhys was really sweet, I did have a few mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I loved how it was super sugary sweet but at the same time also felt like a realistic first love between two teenagers. But on the other hand, it did feel just a bit insta-lovey in the beginning. Though as a whole, the romance progressed very realistically, I felt like the actual forming of feelings for eachother happened quite quickly. So yes, I know I’m contradicting myself a bit here, by saying it was both realistic and a bit insta-lovey, but there was just something about the pacing that didn’t add up completely for me. But that’s not to say the romance was not sweet or fun to read about.
Another plus about the book is the inclusion of positive female friendships and sex positivity. All too often, books include more toxic forms of female friendships, where so-called friends are trying to drag the other girl down because of jealousy or are slut-shaming. And I was happy to see that was so not the case here. Steffi has a best friend called Tem and the friendship between the two was heart-warming. These two girls are almost opposites, but the love and support they show eachother was beautiful. Sure, nobody’s perfect and they had their issues, but they always handled things in a pretty mature and positive way.
Family is also a pretty big aspect in the book. Steffi’s parents have divorced and both have new partners, so she had a pretty big family behind her. And again, all family interactions felt very real. Especially the way her family handled her mental illness felt so honest – everybody’s trying to be supportive, but they don’t always handle things the right way. Grief also plays a big part in the book, and it was interwoven in the entire story.
Overall, this book tackled quite a lot of complex issues, but I feel like it did it in a beautiful and well-balanced way. I definitely recommend it.
“I imagine going to the supermarket and buying a bottle of milk without thinking twice. I dream of speaking to the assistant at the bank. I hope of getting through a Saturday in town without a panic attack. These are such small things to most people, but the fear of them takes up my whole world.”
“I move slowly so people won’t notice I’m there, because running in public is as loud as a shout.”
“Meekness is my camouflage. Silence is my forcefield.”
“I don’t want a boy to be the reason I get better, what would that say about me if it is?”