TITLE: A quiet kind of thunder
WRITTEN BY: Sara Barnard
PUBLISHED BY: Macmillan Children’s Books
HOW DID I GET IT FROM? Pre-order from Wordery
VERSION I READ: paperback
DIVERSITY: race, mental health (anxiety), selective mutism, deaf.
(PLOT BY GR) 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.
“A quiet kind of thunder” is my second book of the year with a 5 STARS rating, so I don’t know if I am becoming more wild with the ratings or if I am actually pretty lucky with my reading lately but THIS BOOK IS OUSTANDING! AQKOT has everything a diverse book should have: different races, disabilities and mental health disease. I could kiss this book as it is perfect.
Steffi is selective mute since she has a kid and now she is 17 years old and she is not entirely able to talk to every person that she met. This mutism has due to anxiety, shyness and social anxiety and she is capable to express herself at 100% only to people who she know pretty well and she is comfortable with like her family or her best friends since she was 2: Tem a daughter of refugees who is the opposite of Steffi — she is chatty and able to fill all the silence of Steffi. Tem never judged her best friend and never forced her to talk.
Steffi also suffers of anxiety and panic attack who lead to selective mutism; talking about anxiety, I don’t think there is a better fictional character whom I related to. Steffi’s brain does exactly what mine does. No matter if I am happy or I don’t have any reason to think about something bad, my brain can pass from a good thing to a disaster one. And this anxiety leads to depression and sometimes it’s really impossible to get out of it. So, thank you Sara for creating a character who I can relate in so many way to and for this perfect portrait of anxiety.
But Steffi is not entirely mute with the world around her, sometimes she is able to say few words but she finds very difficult to express an articulate thought. This will change when she met Rhys a deaf kid who just changed school.
Steffi finds Rhys easy to talk to because she doesn’t have to use words but her body language through the British Sign Language, she has learned BSL when she was younger as a form alternative of communication since she wasn’t able to communicate even with her own family. “A quiet kind of thunder” is full of BSL starting with the intern of the cover we have the alphabet and the numbers, then every chapter number has its equivalent in the sign language. Even during the story there are lines that explain how to signs specific words in BSL like thank you or I am sorry. This book is so educative and I learned that a lot of signs are exactly the same of ASL which I have learned something in the US show “Switched at Birth” and I actually become obsessed with this form of communication. I hope to learn a lot more in the future.
The race diversity couldn’t pass unnoticed, especially in the times that we are currently living. It wouldn’t been realistic if it was otherwise. There is a racist episode where Steffi hated herself for not being able to talk/yell to a stranger: Tem loves running and she is very good at it; during a running race a lady on the public just yell something like that “it’s not fair let that girl compete. Girl like that has it in the blood”.
In conclusion, “A quiet kind of thunder” by Sara Barnard is a must for your diverse book TBR. It has everything a book should have: a good dose of friendship and love, race diversity, mental health (anxiety and grief), disability like deaf and mutism. The writing is outstanding and the characters are so relatable. In addition, you will find a good part dedicated to one of the most magnificent city of this world: Edinburgh. You can’t miss this reading!
“Panic attacks are a lot like being drunk in some ways, you lose self-control. You cry for seemingly no reason. You deal with the hangover long into the next day.”
Do you want to read more written by Sara Barnard?
Check my other review about Beautiful Broken Things.
Plus, if you want to start a tvshow that is dealing DEAFNESS I advice you to watch SWITCHED AT BIRTH.