Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard


United By Pop received a free copy of Sara Barnard’s A Quiet Kind Of Thunder in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.

Title: A Quiet Kind of Thunder

Author: Sara Barnard

Purchase: Available in the UK and the US

Overall rating: 4/5

Great for: Expanding your horizons by reading about marginalised communities and fans of young adult romance

Themes: diversity, mental health, contemporary, romance, coming-of-age

“Here are three separate but similar things: shyness, introversion and social anxiety. You can have one, two or all three of these things simultaneously. A lot of the time people thing they're all the same thing, but that's just not true. Extroverts can be shy, introverts can be bold, and a condition like anxiety can strike whatever kind of social animal you are." . . #book #bibliophile #bookstagram #bookstagramfeature #bookishfeatures #igbooks #igreads #instabook #instareads #bookdragon #booknerd #booknerdigan #bookworm #bookgeek #bookgram #booklove #booklover #booklion #booklife #bookish #fandom #currentlyreading #currentread #amreading #bookpic #bookporn #bookphoto #bookphotography #aquietkindofthunder #sarabarnard

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Review: Barnard’s debut novel, Beautiful Broken Things, (read my full review here) convinced me of this author’s prowess at eliciting emotion from her readers and in dealing with tough and triggering subject matters. I was pleased that her 2017 release delivered more of the same.

The bones of the story are deceptively simple: girl meets boy. And then the reader discovers that the girl is suffering from a form of anxiety-based selective mutism and the boy in question is deaf.

It would have been very easy for Barnard to adhere to uneducated and overused tropes such as instalove and romanticised mental illness, but instead, she delivered something refreshing and educational. The author debunked the stereotypes ‘normal’ people have against those living with a mental illness or disability and instead portrayed them as ordinary teenagers who just happened to belong to a linguistic and cultural minority.

This felt like an incredibly honest portrayal of the varied reactions to both deafness and mutism. The characters frequently experienced ridicule and seclusion, but also patronism and misunderstanding even by those closest to them. This book acts as a guide, in that instance, as it disallows those who have read it to behave as their ignorant loved ones have done. Often the reactions were less malicious and more genuinely misguided.

The author also included extra features to this book that struck me as incredibly thoughtful. Both front and back end pages are adorned with some basic BSL (British Sign Language) and each chapter number is also accompanied with the correlating BSL depiction.

It should go without saying that my opinion of this book should not be taken as valuable when compared to a reviewer who is deaf or has selective mutism, themselves. As a reader and reviewer who has experienced neither, I found this incredibly illuminating and insightful. The author did both marginalised communities justice in their representation, in my opinion.

This is, in some respects, a traditional love story but for me, but it felt more like a story about learning to love yourself. This book does so much to illuminate some of the stigmas regarding both mental health and marginalised characters living with some sort of disability. Both selective mutism and deafness are things people live with every day, and for Barnard to represent them says something about the acuity of this author.

If you would like to learn more about British Sign Language you can do so here

More information on selective mutism can be found here

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