by Sara Barnard (2017)
Stefi is a selective mute and has pretty much been invisible all her life but it suits her and she gets by. But a new guy starts at her school, Rhys who is deaf and their common knowledge of sign language has Stefi talking more than she ever has before. Because love isn’t a flash of lightning, sometimes is a small rumble of thunder which builds and builds…
Love, love, love this book! I didn’t want to put it down I just couldn’t get enough of this beautiful story. I loved how it wasn’t a typical love story, I mean yeah they get together so it is a typical love story but it also isn’t because they both have their own mental and physical illness which impacts their lives differently. Stefi can’t talk to people which makes everything the average person takes for granted so hard, but Rhys can’t hear and has a whole other world in his life most people don’t give a second thought to.
Rhys is absolutely adorable. Seriously, he is a cutie and I love him and Stefi together in this book because they are so sweet. They argue over which is the best Pixar film: Toy Story or Wall-E (and for the record, it’s most definitely WALL-E I mean there’s just no competition) and then he gets her two pop vinyl figures for her birthday – a Wall-E and Eve! God can Rhys please be my boyfriend haha!
What I loved about this book is how it represents two completely different but so similar people in the fact that they both have some sort of illness/disability – Rhys is deaf and Stefi is mute and has social anxiety. It helps to understand just how someone with anxiety is affected by this and I was quite shocked how some things she did I would consider to be rude or blase. Like at one point she answers a question in class with one word but doesn’t look up and carries on drawing in her notepad – I would have found this to be disrespectful if I didn’t know she was a selective mute so it just goes to show that you can’t presume you know everything about a person just from how they act – there’s always something you don’t know about.
And I learnt so much about sign language and lip reading! I had no idea how much someone could understand what someone is saying just from lip reading, or that someone who is deaf could talk so much. Because it’s not a part of my life – I don’t know anyone who is deaf – I have no idea how someone who is deaf manages with day-to-day life and what obstacles they have to overcome.
I love books like this. Ones that are not only enjoyable to read, but educate the reader about things they just wouldn’t have come across in their life. It was so lovely to read and made me laugh at times as well! I love Stefi’s friend with her cheeky humour and the fact that Stefi has separated parents and two families; it shows that life isn’t perfect but it’s what you make of it and I really liked the representation of family and friendships in this book, as well as starting a relationship for the first time.
It was such a sweet romance to read about, with their texting and their communication through sign language and they were just so cute together! And I absolutely loved the realistic ‘first time’ that Stefi experienced with Rhys – it shows that, again, it’s not the fairytale wonderful moment you dream it to be. This book was just so on it with the reality of life and it was so refreshing to read.
Love and relationships be they family, friend or romantic, are always hard and have their obstacles and difficulties. This book shows that in a beautifully subtle way and I recommend reading it!
“With lightning, you’re never really sure if that’s what it was; it’s just a flash. Thunder, you know. You feel it.’
‘You can keep your quiet thunder. I’ll keep the exciting lightning.” – Sara Barnard, A Quiet Kind of Thunder