Author: Sara Barnard
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Teen
Publisher: Publishers Group Canada - MacMillan Children's Books
First Published: January 12, 2017
First Line: "Millie Gerdavey cheated on her boyfriend again."
Book Description from GoodReads: 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 Rating: 3/5 stars
My Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a teen romance between a Deaf boy and a girl who has Selective Mutism. As a former Sign Language Interpreter, the addition of the Deaf character was the reason I picked up this book in the first place. Unfortunately, the book is only told from Steffi's point of view so we don't get a great representation of Rhys, the Deaf teen.
Steffi suffers from anxiety and Selective Mutism - a debilitating condition where she is unable to speak in social settings. But, over the course of the book, it didn't seem like her mutism effected her daily life as much I would have expected. There were a few instances where she was unable to speak to people but, for the most part, she seemed to be able to overcome her social anxiety and mutism without much trepidation. Steffi's behaviour could be explained by medication and therapy - I just thought there would be more issues surrounding her condition. With Selective Mutism being new to me I wasn't sure if this was an accurate portrayal.
This was a slowly paced story about a sweet teen relationship but I was expecting their communication issues, social anxiety and Deaf culture to play bigger roles in the plot. Instead the focus was on the teen romance which had that sweet, first love feel to it. Ah, l'amour! That said, I felt their connection developed too fast with their bond having an Insta-Love vibe to it. And while I applaud the author for including BSL (British Sign Language) into her book I felt that Steffi picked up BSL unbelievably easily - we're talking about a whole new language.
This book addresses several relevant issues - mental health, teen sexual health, first love and a strong nod to relationships with parents and best friends. I liked seeing the different ways in which Steffi and Rhys' families dealt with issues surrounding Deafness and Selective Mutism as well as Steffi's relationship with Tem, her BFF. These secondary relationships were well drawn and added diversity to the cast.
Overall, this was a decent, slow burn kind of read which gives readers a general idea about being Deaf in a mainly hearing world as well as what it's like for someone living with Selective Mutism and social anxiety. I think other readers (who have more romantic souls) will enjoy this book more than I did.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to MacMillan's Children's Books at NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.