A Quiet Kind of Thunder — Sara Barnard

November 10, 2018

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara  Barnard

TITLE: A Quiet Kind of Thunder
AUTHOR: Sara Barnard
RELEASED: January 9th, 2018; Simon Pulse
GENRE: Contemporary
ACQUIRED: gift from Kathy



Huge thank you to my sweet friend Kathy for sending me a surprise gift copy of this book! She read it and loved it so much that she wanted me to read it too, and I’m so glad that she did, because it was so beautifully diverse, and sweet, and funny, and altogether just a precious story of friendship, love, and adapting to a world that doesn’t always meet your needs.

“I want the world, I think. Even if it scares me.”


Steffi is a selective mute—a term she finds ironic, since she certainly doesn’t choose not to speak—who suffers from debilitating anxiety so strong that she’s been silent for years. When she meets Rhys, the new boy at school, they click immediately thanks to her basic familiarity with sign language, and find a friendship in one another that quickly blossoms into more. Steffi is forced to come to terms with the fact that it doesn’t take a voice to communicate, or to express the things you want and need in life.


First of all, the representation in this book: fantastic. None of it feels forced or thrown in just to mark off a checkbox. Steffi has selective mutism and severe anxiety (and I can say from experience that her anxiety rep is on point and I saw myself so much therein), Rhys is d/Deaf, and both Rhys and Tem (Steffi’s best friend) are POC (though I don’t think it was ever stated precisely what race either character was). While the d/Deaf rep is not own-voice, and I can’t speak for sure on this since I am not d/Deaf myself, it did feel very respectfully done to me and I felt like the author had done her research. That said, my outsider’s perspective on this representation will never be half as important as own-voice reviews for this book, so if you have an own-voice review that you would like boosted, please message me so I can link to your review!

“I decide this is just A Bad Day. We all get them, because grief doesn’t care how many years it’s been.”

There’s also some very healthy sex representation portrayed. Unlike many YA novels that depict a picturesque view of a teen’s first time as being all silk and lace and swooning perfection, Sara’s writing is much more honest: the sex in this book is awkward in the best possible way, and feels so realistic. I literally laughed out loud at how relatable some of it was. Many of you already know that my hill to die on is that I believe YA novels need to depict authentic, honest sexual relationships to give teens healthy goals to strive towards, and A Quiet Kind of Thunder does that perfectly, because even though it’s clumsy and awkward and imperfect, it also clearly expresses that they’re new to this, they’re learning together, and it’s okay if it doesn’t look like the movies.

“Extroverts can be shy, introverts can be bold, and a condition like anxiety can strike whatever kind of social animal you are.”

The other positive note is that whenever something problematic occurs, it’s dissected and dealt with. Steffi and Rhys both occasionally have some ableist moments towards the other (more Steffi than Rhys), and Rhys has occasional issues with fragile masculinity and unintentional sexism, but it’s constantly addressed and challenged.


My only complaint was the lack of forward-moving plot in parts of the book. There are a lot of heavy, important topics to discuss, yet much of the story revolves just around character interactions and casual moments that didn’t always feel necessary to the plot. The reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 was because the second half focused so heavily on the relationship between Steffi and Rhys, without really progressing the storyline.


All in all, A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a very sweet, lovable story about characters who are relatable, funny, charming, awkward, and genuine. There’s a lot of diverse representation and important subject matter, which more than makes up for the plot moving slowly at times.


I would recommend A Quiet Kind of Thunder to any YA contemporary fan who enjoys fluffy storylines with a little bit of dark undertones, but a primary focus on romance and cuteness. I would also recommend it to anyone looking for representation of d/Deaf or selective mute characters, or characters with very authentic anxiety portrayals.




More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. This book sounds very interesting, I heard some things about it, but I had never thought about reading it. Your review really caught my attention so I’m going to check it out ??

    1. Lovely review! I also read this book a little while ago and really, really enjoyed it, it was such a fantastic story and great anxiety rep, too <3 I'm happy you enjoyed it and your hardcover copy looks so pretty! 🙂

    1. Great review, love! I’ve heard such great things about this one and it’s wonderful to hear that whenever there’s an issue, the two characters discuss and sort it out! ❤️

    1. This sounds like a book I HAVE to read. Not only for the anxiety rep, but also for the deaf rep. My mum is deaf and has been since she was a toddler and I always think there’s never enough rep of it in the media, especially books, so this is something that I’m pretty excited about. This was a really great review and I’m loving your new format for it!

    1. Patting myself on the back right now. That’s TWO books you read that I got you and you actually liked, HAH.
      I’m really, really glad you liked this one though! It’s still one of the more special books I read this year and.. I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting rid of my paperback copy to get myself a hardcover one, haha. :’)

      1. Haha look at you go! 😀 It was so good and sweet. I’ve been sitting on this review FOREVER because I had ARC reviews and such going up, and I was looking at my drafts a few days ago and went, “WAIT. Why have I not posted this?!” :’) Found a few more in there, too, that I have to reformat to fit the new layout… but at least I know I have posts ready in a pinch if there are any days coming up where I don’t feel up to writing something up for them the night before.

        1. Hahaha. I had some reviews like that as well. One for the Paranormalcy trilogy where I blabbered about the first two installments and then realized.. “Hey, I read the third one.. Why didn’t I add to it and actually finish this review already?!” :’) I swear some things just disappear in the draft-void..
          Gahh, I’m happy with my review layout as it is. I canNOT handle changing it all up again. And I hate seeing my older reviews because they’re darn ugly but I really can’t be arsed to edit them? 😐
          Having some older reviews up your sleeve is always a good thing though. You never know when you get into a slump or don’t have the time / energy to write out something.

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