“A Quiet Kind of Thunder” by Sara Barnard

A teenager’s life changing year through love, friends, and talking.

Stefanie has been quiet and anxious during her entire life. Her parents have always worried since she was little about how she will be able to function when she’s without them. Her best friend, Tem, went off to college while Stef is still in high school, leaving her with no one to talk to at school. 

Stef was known as a selective mute when she was younger because she quite literally never talked, not even to her parents. She’s seen a therapist throughout her life and takes meds to help her cope with being quiet and anxious. She’s started talking slightly more over time, but not much more. Her life is changed after her principal introduces her to a new student named Rhys. Rhys is deaf and uses BSL (British Sign Language), which Stefanie also knows how to use. They become friends at first—but quickly become very flirtatious—and they end up falling in love with each other. 

The book is shaped around Stefanie meeting Rhys and how she begins to become more outgoing in the real world. She gains confidence to talk to strangers and raise her hand to answer questions in class. She knows that change shouldn’t be influenced by a boy, but honestly she is starting to feel like a normal human being. Her best friend, Tem, is super supportive of Stef and always wants the best for her. However, Stef may get so caught up in her relationship that she’ll pay little attention to Tem. 

Stef and Rhys definitely steal the reader’s heart throughout this book. Rhys never bothers Stef about how quiet she is, and Stef tries her best to look out for him when he is struggling to understand a conversation. Using BSL with each other— of course, only if no one else around uses it— is like having their own language and way of communication with each other. Rhys brings out the extroverted side of Stef while she brings out the true happiness in him. Steffi’s true self is admirable, confident, and brave. This book is truly outstanding and worth the read.  

Beautifully written.