A Quiet Kind of Thunder

400p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534402416.
Gr 9 Up—When Steffi solves an equation out loud, her shocked classmates turn and stare. At school, Steffi never talks: she's a selective mute with glossophobia and an anxiety disorder. She also has supportive parents, a good therapist and the resolve to communicate at least sometimes—at her part-time job, for example, or with Tem, her trusted friend. It's not that Steffi doesn't want to speak; but sometimes, she just can't. Or, as she puts it: "Meekness is my camouflage. Silence is my force field." This doesn't phase Rhys, however, a new student who is deaf, for whom the speaking world is always silent. That's why he's a good foil and love interest. Unfortunately, he has a habit of editing himself when he signs, keeping his negative thoughts from others and making him hard to read. He may have a wonderful smile, but deep down he's pretty sure that Steffi can do better, which she assures him is not true. Together they build the confidence to find their own voices in a committed relationship. This issues-driven read will make teens care as much about the characters as about the issues that it raises.
VERDICT A strong contemporary novel that portrays strength of character through a romance between its protagonists. Recommended as a general purchase.

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