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.There are very few books I’ve related to quite as much as A Quiet Kind of Thunder. Honestly, it was as though Sara Barnard was inside my brain as she perfectly described the anxiety-driven stream of thoughts which can flood the brain, immobilising and taking control. Anxiety is different for every person and although Steffi’s was a lot more debilitating than mine ever was, I immediately connected with her. Barnard has perfectly captured the feelings and thoughts which can so often invade the life of someone with anxiety. Her blossoming romance with Rhys was ridiculously cute, although having just broken up with someone, I probably wasn’t in quite the right mindset to read this and I must admit it made me tear up at times. This was just another testament to how incredibly real this book felt because it reminded me way too much of my own relationship.
Friendship is also an essential part of Steffi’s story and I loved that she got a bit of a wake-up call about dealing with a boyfriend and best friend. I’ve always been a big believer in making sure you don’t abandon your friends for relationships because, as I’ve been shown recently, they’re the ones who will always be there to help mend your broken heart (as well as cheering the loudest when you find a lovely person). I loved the history in Tem and Steffi’s friendship. Again, it felt real and totally relatable.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder was pretty much my perfect read. The honest, unflinching and very real portrayal of what it’s like to live with anxiety was the best exploration of mental health I’ve read in YA. The only thing I would have loved to seen more of was the discussion around Steffi’s decision to take medication. It’s something I’ve been through myself and it was never easy for me to reconcile how medication may change what felt like an essential part of my identity. Luckily, the decision worked in my favour, but since there’s still such a large stigma attached to how mental illness is treated, I would have loved to have read even more about it.
There are very few books which take my breath away because they’re so damn spot-on, but A Quiet Kind of Thunder is one of them. I wanted to shout from the rooftops (or, well Twitter at the very least) that Barnard gets it. She perfectly captures how it feels to battle anxiety on a daily basis, how it feels to find your first partner and the depth and love which can be forged by friendship. This quiet little book really rattled my heart.
Sounds like: Like Real People Do || Hozier
I’m delighted to welcome author Sara Barnard to The Unfinished Bookshelf today as part of the Aussie blog tour for her wonderful new novel, A Quiet Kind of Thunder. Q&A with Sara:
If there is one thing that you want for your readers to take away from A Quiet Kind of Thunder, what would it be?
That there’s so much more to communication than the words we physically speak out loud. And just because someone doesn’t speak a lot, that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say!
A fun fact about you that nobody knows?
I once accidentally stalked the 90s band a1 in a random town in Norway with my best friend. In 2015.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a copy of the book for review.