Hi Virtually Readers! Today is a review day, and I’m reviewing the truly excellent A Quiet Kind of Thunder, which I loved (so much that I immediately went and got the author’s other book from the library) The narrative was nuanced, Steffi an appealing main character, and otherwise it blended ‘cute’ and ‘contemplative’ very effective. These qualities totally made up for what was otherwise quite a predictable plot (the foreshadowing was as subtle as a sledgehammer)
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.
Barnard has obviously done lots of research, and that totally showed in the story. I’m not part of any the minorities–Deaf, black, anxiety, whatever, but I think she managed to not make a huge deal of ‘LOOK AT MY DIVERSITY’, it was just incorporated into the story of healing. I loved that the characters talked about how they found spaces of both exclusion and inclusion. Steffi’s mixed up family was also dealt with really well imo. I don’t know, I just felt like the whole narrative was honest, and the diversity was excellent–not ignored, but also not shoved in your face. I loved that I learnt quite a lot from the story too, especially about British Sign Language.
Steffi is a wonderful main character. She’s quiet, obviously, and aware of that. But she’s also so strong. I find that in a lot of ‘issue’ books, the character’s only flaw is the issue, which doesn’t make sense, because anxiety and so on are just part of who you are. But Steffi did get frustrated easily. She was over sensitive about things, and a bit self obsessed. She had problems in her relationship which she had to work out. She was not perfect, and that’s what made her such a delight to read. The strength of her character–her friendships, love of dogs, family, and desire to go to university–pulls this story together. It’s not a strong plot, but it’s how she overcomes obstacles and becomes more herself.
This book has the sweetness of first love, balanced by the rounder, fuller flavours of loss and mental illness and fear and how they intersect with life. This balance worked so well for me. The book is addictive, a perfect full meal that is enjoyable the whole way through. It made me happy to read, and I loved that so much. The different elements of the narrative combine in really wonerful ways–not too overwhelming, just lovely and fits-just-right.
The plot is kind of non-existent, but this was very enjoyable and well thought out and I love all the characters, so that makes it worth it. I’m so glad I read A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and recommend it to anyone who wants to read about dealing with anxiety, and falling in love, and most of all, learning to listen.