My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4.5?? 5?? I’m so bad at finding the right rating for books like this.
Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, 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.
From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.
This book was so lovely?? To be honest, I was a little worried that it was going to be too saccharine sweet for me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do love a good romance, but you’ve got to be in a particular mood to want to read them. But this book surprised me, and even though it was very very very sweet, I enjoyed it?
I think what made this book for me was Steffi’s anxiety, and it’s really really brilliant portrayal. I really liked that this wasn’t a book where she finds a guy and all her problems go away, or that she finds the right medication and bam the problem is gone. Also (spoiler)that her mutism didn’t stem from some huge childhood trauma. I know that’s a very legitimate cause, but it’s really nice to see a more common cause?(spoiler)
I’m pretty on top of my anxiety, but still absolutely have anxious moments and intrusive thoughts, and it’s hard to find a portrayal that fits this. Because, you know, normally character journeys are such that they get over this and don’t feel this anymore. But I liked that we saw Steffi’s intrusive thoughts in particular (spoiler)like at the graveyard, when she’s trying to have a conversation and her brain wants her to remember she’ll die.(spoiler) I think it’s brilliant to see this, as it paints a more realistic picture of what things are like.
I enjoyed Steffi in general, I think because it was pretty easy to connect with her. I really really liked her relationship with her family, and the passion that she showed for animals and the prospect of study zoology in university. It made it so easy to imagine her as, you know, a real person, as opposed to some Idealised Anxiety Girl (TM). I also liked that they addressed questions like her ability to go to university, which paralleled nicely with (spoiler)Tem and her own struggles at university/college (I can’t remember which) – showing that even those ‘without issues’ can hit a rough patch(spoiler)
And then of course Rhys. It’s hard to talk Rhys without talking BSL and how awfully fond I am of seeing it in a book (portrayed so well!! and complexly!!). I adored Rhys, and one of my few issues of him was actually addressed so well in the book that I can’t even count it as an issue anymore (spoiler)He seemed waaaay too nice, but then he pointed out that he can filter what he says because he’s using BSL so it slows him down, and he can choose to come across one way(spoiler). I liked the depth that we got to see of him, and I just generally?? really liked him. He was a soft, sweet boy. Not perfect, but that was perfect.
I also have to say that, without trying to give away too much, I enjoyed their conflict? It’s a weird thing to enjoy, I know, but bear with me. Too often, conflict between couples in books is either a) unrealistic (either because of what it’s about or the lack thereof), b) far too much (like they should break up asap) or c) made up of stupid things that real people don’t have problems with (YOU LOOKED AT THAT GUY ON THE BUS FOR THREE SECONDS or I’M NO GOOD FOR YOU like m’kay). But these two had realistic conflict, and it was easy to root for them through it because it seemed perfectly normal to have these issues.
(spoiler)My favourite being that Rhys felt left out when she didn’t use BSL in front of other people, because it then put the pressure on him to read lips. That’s a perfectly understandable thing to get upset about, and something easily missed by Steffi.(spoiler)
Another little spoiler… (spoiler)I was so worried because the lead up to the sex scene was far too picture perfect romance book style, but it being awkward and quick and a little painful the first time is something I’m all about. Please keep real portrayals of sex, honestly!!(spoiler)
I guess my only problem was that it did feel as though there could have been more conflict. I mean, on one hand I’m very glad that it wasn’t an angst fest, on the other… the few issues that did come up were so easily solved I found myself wanting just something more. Maybe (spoiler)a better tie in of the Clark story???(spoiler) To be honest, I’m not really sure.
But I am trying to bully my sister into reading this, so… I would recommend it!