Thursday 12 January 2017

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard- the power of words

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard is out today. This is the story of Steffi who has selective mutism for most of her life and she is starting to feel 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.
The lovely team at My Kind of Book have asked bloggers to help them celebrate the release of Sara Barnard's brilliant novel A Quiet Kind of Thunder they've reached out to the blogging community to undertake a challenge: spend a day, just one day, imagining what it might be like not to be able to use the power of words, just like Steffi who suffers from selective mutism struggles in the book. This isn't a sponsored silence, they're asking people to think about their day from the moment they wake up to the second they go to bed. 

We completely underestimate the power our voice has, and I'm not just talking about standing up for injustices in the world, but how we communicate every day with our colleagues, our friends and family, the lady in the shop, a stranger on the street, that guy or girl that you really want to get to know but can't find the words. 
Here is what happened as I went about my normal day and imagining what it would be like if I couldn't speak with words.
At the start of the day, I wouldn't be able to say Good Morning to my boyfriend and wish him a good day as we went our separate ways to work. Such little things, but they are so important in starting the day. 
Heading into work, I wouldn't be able to greet my colleagues and ask how their evenings were or comment or small things like the weather and just general chit chat. 
In my meeting with my boss, I wouldn't be able to tell him my ideas for our campaigns and how we could try things differently. I wouldn't 100% be able to share my input. I also would not have been able to tell him that I desperately needed the toilet and could I come back in a few minutes.
Going for a coffee with my friend, it would be a one-sided conversation for her and I wouldn't be able to comfort her and just share our opinions on things.
At the post office, I wouldn't be able to tell the lady how I want my parcel sent and what is in it.
On the phone to my Mum, this just would not be able to happen to catch up on our day and what we are going to be doing at the weekend.
These all seem like such little things, but actually to not be able to do these things would have such a massive impact. People would think you are rude, uncommunicative, disinterested. We need conversation, it is part of who we are and gives us a voice in the world.  Below are Steffi's worst times to be mute.
The Top Five Worst Times To Be Mute
As told by Steffi in A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
5) When you need the toilet
4) When you’re bleeding
3) When you need a new pencil
2) When you look a bit suspicious
1) When your best friend needs you
A Quiet Kind of Thunder is out now


  1. Lovely, thoughtful review, Laura. How terrible it would be to be unable to communicate through speech. When times are tough it is good to consider the difficulties other people live with each day of their lives.

    1. Thank you so much Wendy. It really does open your eyes.