I just ADORE diversity… YA readers are blessed with some new books coming down the pike with fascinating mental health + disabilities! This is one that EVERYONE must read!! Especially anglophiles!!
A Quiet Kind of Thunder
by Sara Barnard
Published January 9th 2018
by Simon Pulse
Steffi is selective mute and has been since a child… but that is about to change… she hopes!! This is the year where she’s trying to break out of the hold her anxiety has on her actions. If she doesn’t then her parents may just decide no university for her! Amidst this she meets Rhys. Deaf, they communicate through her rusty sign language. With her silent voice and his expert listening skills they become friends in their own little world, as they reconcile the real world around them there are unexpected twists to the world as she knows it!
Diversity! Mental Health! Disability! Deaf! Selective Mute! Social Anxiety! British! Friendship! Romance! Counseling! Sex! Parents!
I LOVED it… … …What?! That wasn’t enough for you?! Well I DO have a few more specifics about WHAT I loved… This has some masterful examples of family, a traditional one and a divorced parents one, both of which I LOVED and thought were spot on. The FRIENDSHIP with Tem! I NEED me my own Tem! And how cute is ASL?! (Or rather BSL since this is set in Britain!! Another bonus as I love the tiny differences in British culture as compared to American.)
I DID totally love Rhys! I love that his father came from South America and that he had a totally well adjusted life even as he dealt with his deafness and the emotions that arose due to how people treated him because of it. I related to Rhys but I HARDCORE related to Steffi’s social anxiety. I really enjoyed how her counseling played a HUGE role in her getting a handle on her mutism while Rhys simply provided her motivation!
There are two covers! I suspect one is the American version and the other is the British one. I really LOVE the pink and foil one with the type title. I was drawn to that one. The cover of my ARC is dark blue with hands in the shape of a heart. I’m less drawn to that one but I recognized the title right off! (Hence my grade!) The title is one of those old fashioned ones that are now classics. It’s perfect as far as titles go for me… everything now is so literal and this one is simply beautiful poetry from the story itself!
Why should you read this YA contemporary?
The mental health, the mental health, the mental health!!
The explanation of a selective mute was quite good.
I felt like I came to understand this was truly an illness and that it was okay that it happened. We do feel like we need to understand WHY illnesses like this happen as if we want to judge whether it was something they did (like being fat) or if it is something that is “out of their control” (like our race). The message is that WHY just isn’t the issue. It was beautiful and it was raw and the steps to getting healthier were laid out.
Social anxiety which made Steffi’s symptoms worse was also explored and was so RELATABLE!!
Like really, really relatable! This is where Tem came in. She was the “normal,” social one and provided a contrast to Steffi while also being integral to WHO Steffi was and how she had coped up to this point. There is this beautifully laid comparison between the two girls that goes a long way in showing readers who haven’t experienced anxiety what it means to have it and how you can still relate.
Then there is Rhys physical disability in his deafness.
There is a helplessness to being deaf (or other physical disabilities) because this is something that is a literal part of you. As a reader you may struggle with that idea with a mental illness but we TOTALLY understand with the physical. So when Rhys struggles mentally due to being deaf we understand and we want to do something. Sometimes that is the wrong thing to do!! Getting into that mindset so realistically was a treat!!
Finally there was HOW Steffi and Rhys coped… sign language!
She couldn’t handle the pressure of talking and he can’t hear. They used BSL to bridge what they perceived was holding them back and to create a “safe” world to grow stronger together. That allowed them to finally step out from behind their individual fears. GAH!! It was so, so good…
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building
I have no idea whether Barnard has personally experienced any of these conditions or simply did an INCREDIBLE job researching! To me it doesn’t matter. She tapped into the heart and supported each and every emotion and motivation the characters had… Steffi, Rhys, Tem and even her and his families! When you write the research is great but it must be woven into the plot (done, done, done!) AND it must ring true. NOT because the facts are all text book perfect but because we can relate and more, we understand!
I LOVE awkward people and I really enjoy that sweet moment when they realize here is a person that will stick by them… whether in friendship or love, it doesn’t matter!
Do you think it matters if a writer has personal experience with disabilities and mental illness?
Mental illness and health is a matter dear to my heart. I try to review any book that may have a different portrayal than I’ve read in the past so that I can expose myself to different struggles. This one happened to strike very close to home… its powerful to be able to relate to a character’s journey so closely.
Thanks for Reading XOXO
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions.