I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on 12th January 2017
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.
Steffi doesn’t talk and her anxiety can make life extremely difficult for her. Until now she’s had her best friend Tem at school to help her, but Tem has left school for college and Steffi is alone. That is, until she is introduced to Rhys who is deaf and the two of them can communicate through sign language.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s not your typical teenage story – it’s thought-provoking and illuminating as well as being well-written.
I was challenged by Macmillan Children’s Books to spend a day imagining what it might be like not to be able to use the power of words. Not like a sponsored silence, but how life must be like for folk like Steffi with ‘selective mutism’.
Generally, I spend most of my days alone at home, so I used a day over the festive period to take the challenge. Family, noise, questions, requests, games, meals – how would I cope if I couldn’t speak?
I thought it’d be hard but I was actually really shocked by how hard it was. From simple things like saying “yes” to a morning coffee, to handling the inevitable questions as you catch up with the family. Then, in my case, telling everyone I need to go and lie down, or asking for a hand to get up, for someone to go get my meds, or even just asking for a glass of water! I realised how much I communicate and how much, by necessity, I ask for the help of those around me.
How on earth do you handle Christmas dinner? When all eyes fall on you to read out your cheesey cracker joke. Or asking for someone to pass the gravy!
We had a family game of Trivial Pursuits – that just couldn’t happen. How frustrating would it be to know the answers but not be able to say them?
The thing is, this was just one day, in the comfort of the family home where you’d assume everyone would understand. But how would you deal with the outside world?
This challenge really made me think. It made me realise how hard even a day with family must be, let alone actually leaving the house, getting on a bus, life at school or uni or work! And what about in an emergency? I think this book, the challenge and the issues addressed will stay with me for a long time.