A Quiet Kind of Thunder

by Sara Barnard

4.2 of 5 stars 10 ratings • 5 reviews • 27 shelved
Book cover for A Quiet Kind of Thunder

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A Quiet Kind of Thunder

by Sara Barnard

4.2 of 5 stars 10 ratings • 5 reviews • 27 shelved

Steffi doesn't talk.
Rhys can't hear.
They understand each other perfectly.
Love isn't always a lightning strike. Sometimes it's the rumbling roll of thunder . . .

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things, Sara Barnard's A Quiet Kind of Thunder is stunning love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.

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.

  • ISBN10 1534402438
  • ISBN13 9781534402430
  • Publish Date 9 January 2018 (first published 12 January 2017)
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publisher Simon & Schuster
  • Imprint Simon Pulse
  • Format eBook
  • Pages 400
  • Language English


Avatar for emruth13

emruth13 5 of 5 stars
I've never felt so seen by a book. As someone who is hard of hearing and has anxiety, I understand these characters so much. I love this book so much and wish everyone would read it! It's my new favorite contemporary!

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Leigha 4 of 5 stars
Steffi, a selective mute for most of her life, befriends the new deaf kid at her school in this sweet realistic romance.

I picked this up from the library when it caught my eye in August. It’s one of those books I picked up to skim, but I ended up reading and enjoying it. Both Steffi and Rhys are complex characters dealing with issues not typically found in young adult literature. I haven’t read any novels with a selective mute and very few with a hearing impairment. The story is really interesting because you get to see these two people living and thriving despite their particular limitations. Their romance is realistic and authentic, if not that memorable. I find the characters themselves to be more interesting than their romance. The plot felt a little unfocused, but the ending is more defined that I thought it would be.

tl;dr Interesting characters mixed with a realistic, if somewhat boring, romance make this a cute read for contemporary romance fans.

Avatar for kozbisa

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Gosh! I just love Steffi and Rhys so much! I learned so much about the deaf community, while seeing many of my own experiences and feelings echoed with respect to mental health. Cute, adorable, heartwarming -- this one delivered many feels.

I am not even sure if I will be able to properly express how much I adored this book. I had read quite a few positive reviews for A Quiet Kind of Thunder, but I didn't expect it to fill my heart with so much warmth and leave me in such a joyous state.


I had so much love for both Steffi and Rhys early on in this book.

Rhys was such a sweet little cupcake. He was charming and, for the most part, said all the right things. He wanted to be so independent, that he sometimes let it get him down, when he had to rely on someone else. Seemingly perfect, but slightly flawed.

Steffi was so easy to love and root for. She had something to prove to her parents, her peers, and herself, and I admired her drive. She experienced a lot of setbacks and bumps in the road in her quest to show to her parents that she could navigate her way in the outside world, but even when disappointed, she kept working on herself. I respected that and I also respected that she was doing it for herself.

This is what Tem does. She fills my silences.

Tem and Steffi were life long best friends. Tem was Steffi's champion and her voice, when Steffi had none. With Tem attending a different school, Steffi was on her own. She couldn't rely on Tem. Reading all this, it would make the friendship seem sort of one-sided, but it wasn't at all. I really enjoyed seeing the dynamic between Tem and Steffi shift and change over the course of the story, and I like that Tem was better than I thought when I initially met her.
Through so much confusion and turmoil in our lives, we have always had each other.


This two were so sweet and sickeningly adorable. I smiled so much when they were together, that my face hurt. Like, actually hurt. It was worth it, because Barnard did such a magnificent job capturing those feelings of first love. And this was the type of first love I wish everyone could experience, because it was so beautiful. Barnard put tears in my eyes and warmth in my heart.


Here Steffi found herself with her first boyfriend, her first love, and as much as she loved kissing him, she was curious. I liked that she talked about sex in a positive way with Tem and with Rhys. There was this one scene, where Steffi and Tem are talking about "saving themselves" for their husbands. It was so honest and wonderful.
You were saving it for you. And you decided when, and you said it was nice. That's more than a lot of people get. You still made the choice.

Family focus

We often see terrible parents in YA, so whenever I see some great ones, I must mention them. Steffi, Tem, and Rhys all had pretty fabulous families. All these parents obviously loved their children, even if they were not totally ready for them to spread their wings. There were times I was so grateful that Steffi had her dad and stepmother, because I was so frustrated with her mother, but she did grow on me, and I forgave her for wanting to protect Steffi. But seriously, nothing but love for dad. Mental health was something discussed openly at Steffi's dad's house. He had these lovely, honest talks with her, and really tried to understand Steffi. He was a calm in the storm and his love and respect for Steffi was apparent. I just loved him!

I learned so much!

I had a childhood friend who's parents were deaf, but those are the only deaf people I had ever interacted with and it was when I was young. Therefore, I was quite grateful to get a look into Deaf culture via Rhys. There were so many little things he did, which taught me quite a bit. Instead of getting mad and calling Steffi ableist, Rhys would gently remind her how this or that was for someone who is deaf or he would help her find a way to explain something to him. I really appreciated being educated instead of berated, and I cannot get over what an education I got. I learned a great deal about mutism as well, and I am glad Barnard took the time to share Steffi's mental health history with us.
rhysespieces: erm. stef...
stefstef: doesn't the link work?
rhysespieces: sure it does. my ears don't.

Mental Health

As one who lives with mental health issues, I really appreciated Barnard's approach. Therapy and medication were shown in a positive light, and we also saw that it was a slow, long process that Steffi had to work through in order to achieve her goals. No magic cure. No miracle drug. Just lots of baby step, CBT, and a lot of support from family and friends.
They like explanations and recovery stories. They like watching House and knowing a solution is coming. They like to hear that people get uncomplicatedly better.

I also thought Barnard did an incredible job depicting Steffi's struggle with her anxiety. Her frustration and disappointment when she thought she let her anxiety win was so palpable. My heart ached for her, but what I really latched on to was how people wanted to find a reason for Steffi's mutism. If only she had suffered a traumatic event that could explain it all. But she didn't, and she couldn't. People want mental health issues tied up in neat bows. They want reasons and explanations for why you are the way you are, but sometimes there aren't any.


This was what I would call a perfect "Sam" book. It had characters I fell in love with, a sweet romance, a strong female friendship, and lots of loving family. File this under "makes me happy", because the smile I wore from the beginning to the end was a clear indication that I loved this book. I can sum up my feelings with a quote from this book:
I nod. My smile might break my face.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.


Avatar for beehive

Bianca 2 of 5 stars
— What could've been an interesting book about social anxiety issues and deaf culture centered instead on the romance. Promising start but got boring as it went on and ultimately disappointing.

Avatar for divaboooknerd

Kelly 4 of 5 stars
Steffi was a wonderful character, a precocious girl with a gentle disposition. Since the tender age of only four years old. Steffi has suffered from selective mutism and in recent years has developed severe and paralysing anxiety, tormented by her peers. Through therapy and now medication, Steffi has been working towards her ambition of learning to speak, only comfortable when speaking with family members and her best friend, who is now enrolled at University. Steffi's anxiety was palpable, her internal monologue was fascinating although pensive, her frustration at not being able to physically speak due to her anxiety was distressing especially seeing she was offered little support from the education faculty.
I move slowly so people won't notice I'm there, because running in public is as loud as a shout.

Her parents now divorced and remarried to their respective partners, Steffi shares how her mother would often manipulate the young girl into speaking, frustrated at her lack of progress. She was against the prospect of her daughter learning basic sign language to communicate, believing it would hinder her development and thus failing as a parent. Thank goodness for Steffi's father who was supportive and although concerned about his daughter, refused to limit Steffi's ability and encouraged her from a young age. Their lives all irrevocably changed after the tragedy they rarely speak of, but binds their family together.
Meekness is my camouflage. Silence is my forcefield.

Rhys was absolutely lovely, vivacious and inspiring. Rhys is hearing impaired and communicates with the use of sign language. Having previously attended a sensory school, he's now enrolled in public education as a challenge and precursor to becoming a games developer. Placed together through a shared understanding of sign language to communicate, Rhys and Steffi begin a wonderful friendship based on a fondness for one another, rather than their perceived limitations. It was one of the loveliest romances I've had the pleasure of reading in young adult. A gradual relationship built upon friendship and a mutual respect despite their differences.

I appreciated Steffi's friendship with her best friend, although Steffi seemed a little too judgmental when disclosing her fondness for relationships. September Samatar is passionate and impulsive, the two having been friends since their mothers having met at the Refugee Council. September brings a sense cultural diversity throughout the storyline, which also touches on the racism the young teen experiences. I did feel Steffi begun to abandon her best friend in favour of Rhys at times.

As their relationship develops, it was wonderful to see that neither character was denied the teenage experience. A Quiet Kind of Thunder also explores mental health, friendships, relationships and romantic relationships. It is remarkably sexually positive and promotes safe sex practices in which I applaud Sara Barnard for her pragmatical approach.

Sincere and endearing, A Quiet Kind Of Thunder was a beautifully written narrative that breaks down the barriers of communication. Exquisite, wonderful diverse and explores the infinite potential of the human condition.

Check out my blog here for the full review.