Book review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

The book:

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Originally published in 2017 by Macmillan Children’s Books
Pages: 320

My copy: Paperback


The blurb:

Steffi doesn’t talk.
Rhys can’t hear.
They understand each other perfectly.
Love isn’t always a lightning strike. Sometimes 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.

My thoughts…

Last year I read Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was really looking forward to reading this, her new book, but sadly, overall, this book didn’t quite live up to her first for me personally.

Stefi is a selective mute. Rhys is deaf. They are able to communicate with each other using sign language, which works for both of them, and they find themselves forming a strong bond with each other almost immediately. I found the different ways the two found to communicate with each other to be really interesting, and I also felt for Rhys, who had decided to attend a normal sixth form but wasn’t well provided for. Despite this, he’s a strong and determined character. Stefi, meanwhile, battles her own demons, but finds that having someone to communicate with in sign language helps her to regain some confidence.

It was also interesting reading about Rhys and Stefi’s families, and I felt that I could definitely see where Stefi’s parents were coming from when they worried about her so much – even when this worry was sometimes unjustified. 

I sometimes find in young adult novels that diverse characters are shoehorned in, and it can often feel contrived. But I think this book really nails the diversity aspect incredibly well, and what made this work for me was that the characters were a natural part of the story, instead of it being obvious.

However despite the positives, this novel didn’t seem to me to be as complex or interesting as Beautiful Broken Things, and it did feel like a fluffy romance a lot of the time. Beyond the issues faced by the two protagonists, there just wasn’t enough here to keep me interested, and although the book was perfectly nice and easy to read, there really was nothing that made me want to pick it up each time I stopped reading. Rhys and his family are all just a bit too sweet and perfect, and there just didn’t seem to be a meaty enough plot here to keep me going, and it definitely lacked something for me overall.

But there is still enough here for me to think this is a good, worthwhile book with very positive representations of a range of characters. I wish there had been a bit more plot-wise, but I think many readers of young adult novels will still enjoy this. 

My rating: 6.5 out of 10

This Week In Books – 3 May 2017

download (2)
This meme was set up by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Here is what I am reading now, then and next!

Now…
If you spotted my teaser yesterday, you will know I’m reading The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt – an intriguing book about a young girl and a German solider, set during World War II. Click here to read the blurb and my teaser

Then…

I’ve recently finished The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan and two young adult novels – A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard and Hate List by Jennifer Brown. I must admit I didn’t really love any of these books – reviews will be appearing here over the course of the next week or so.

I also started The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver, but I didn’t make it very far at all! I know Shriver loves to use 50 words when just five or six will do, but I usually put up with this as I generally enjoy her books. But this one had the added horror of a south-London snooker player, and his awful, unconvincing dialogue made me cringe so much that I simply couldn’t continue – the book is now charity shop bound! 

Next…

I’ve recently picked up a few books that have been on my wishlist for a while: Ruby by Cynthia Bond, Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien and My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by the hilarious Fredrik Backman – all discovered in the library. These are all books I might read next – but knowing me I’ll probably get sidetracked by something else in the meantime!

I would love to hear all about what you’ve been reading, so please link to your WWW posts here!

Book review: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

The book:

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books in 2016
Pages: 352

My copy: Paperback


downloadThe blurb:

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

My thoughts…

When I first started this book, I thought it seemed quite light and fluffy, and maybe suited to younger pre-teens. But reading on, I soon realised I was way off the mark! It is definitely not a sweet tale of female friendship – it is a bit deeper than that.

Our narrator is 16-year-old Caddy, who is desperate to shake up her fairly ordinary life. When Suzanne becomes friends with Caddy’s best friend Rosie, she feels her friendship with Rosie is threatened – but then she finds herself drawn to Suzanne and her mysterious past.

This novel deals with a range of issues, and has a smattering of swearing, sex, drugs and drinking. But the main issue is that of mental health and abuse. Suzanne has had a dark past and it is her character that is most interesting and we slowly find out more about where she is from and what has happened to her.

I said at the start of this review that this isn’t a sweet book about female friendship – but in many ways the relationship between the three girls is at the very heart of this novel, and it is the dynamic between them that makes it such a readable, interesting book. I found them all very believable and I liked their different, sometimes clashing, sometimes complementary characteristics. The mystery about Suzanne worked well as it makes you want to read on, and I also liked the way Caddy and Rosie dealt differently with these problems and towards Suzanne herself. 

There are also some other interesting aspects to the novel that aren’t explored in depth, but add another dimension all the same, such as Caddy’s relationship with her father, which offers up an interest contrast to Suzanne’s relationship with her stepfather. I also liked the descriptions of the parts of Brighton where this book is set, and even of the girls’ bedrooms, which again reflect their personalities very cleverly.  

Overall I found this a thoroughly likeable novel, with great characters and good plot. The ending is bittersweet, which I felt was fitting for the book, and I think the way it dealt with mental health was very good too and would definitely provide interesting food for thought for young adult readers –and older readers alike.

My rating: 9 out of 10

This Week In Books – 6 July 2016

download (2)
This meme was set up by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Here is what I am reading now, then and next!

Now…

downloadI’m almost done with Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard – a young adult novel that I am absolutely loving! It is about two girls who have been best friends forever – until things are turned upside-down when mysterious new girl Suzanne moves into town. I will definitely finish this today – in fact I intend to start reading it the first chance I get! I really like the way it is written. The dialogue is convincing and the characters are really interesting. It is also a bit darker than I thought it would be at first.

Then…download41UDhf5NCVL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

A few days ago, I read The End of Everything by Megan Abbott, which turned out to be a pretty disturbing novel narrated by a 13-year-old girl who is at once both scarily grown-up yet very naive. I liked it overall – I think!

I also finished What Milo Saw by Virginia MacGregor which I had looked forward to reading so much, but was actually quite disappointed with in the end. It didn’t really live up to my expectations.

Next…51miozB1mdL._UY250_ 51V9Csza11L._AC_US160_

I’ve still not started either of my July book club reads, so I really need to crack on with those. I am looking forward to one of them – The Museum of You by Carys Bray – and not really at all excited about the other – Headlong by Michael Frayn. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised and enjoy both!

What are you reading now, then and next?