Blurb from Goodreads
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 is the cutest book that I’ve read since my beloved Lara Jean ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ series by Jenny Han! I legit squealed a bunch of times while reading this as it was SO FREAKING CUTE!!!!! It was exactly the kind of cutesy, awkward teen romance that I’m a sucker for.
I know I was letting myself in for a hella amount of emotional manipulation from the get go because this is about a selective mute girl with anxiety who falls in love with a deaf boy….. Like it’s got the strings of the heart tugging immediately if you’re in the mood for bubblegum light fiction.
This is where I’ve got to give it major props because the issues surrounding Steffi’s anxiety and mutism didn’t just magically disappear because of love. Okay she went on this journey of healing with her relationship with Rhys helping her to blossom but lots of time in the book was given to her medical treatments (SSRIs and therapy) and the ending wasn’t a love cures all ending. It was happily realistic.
“I had a massive panic attack… It wasn’t even triggered by anything I was happy… It’s not fair…” “You know that your anxiety isn’t about happiness and sadness. It isn’t a cause and effect. Sometimes, often even ,there will be very clear triggers, but not always. Chronic anxiety is a form of illness. It’s not something you bring on yourself by how you feel on any given day.”
Time was also given to the struggles Rhys had with being deaf and what it was like for him to want to make his own way in a hearing world without being dependent on anyone for basic things in life that the rest of us with hearing take for granted.
Also I liked how the families of both teens were present in this book. Okay they were rather perfect at times in their behaviour but Steffi’s family dynamic in particular felt rather believable rather than the usual convenient parental absenteeism of so many YA novels. Her relationship with her mother was nice to read about in that it wasn’t perfect and was a little strained but it didn’t descend into overwrought dramatics.
Steffi’s BFF was an interesting character named Tem. Okay she did suffer a little from that best friend syndrome we usually get in rom coms as her storyline was really only there to further Steffi’s. But she was likeable and fun to read about despite her clichéd personality.
There was one line that she uttered in the book that I need to take issue with. It was rather a flippant comment but I think it should have been edited….
The set up was as follows: Steffi and Rhys were all loved up and out on a day trip with Tem tagging along. Tem hadn’t been in the best mood to start with and being the third wheel was obviously unnerving her a little bit even if she uttered the following line in jest:
“God you guys are sickening. I’m getting diabetes just looking at you”
Now I know it’s sort of funny and meant in a less than serious manner but just think what it would be like if you had diabetes and read a line like that with someone kinda demeaning the seriousness of your condition… I think I wouldn’t have been as bothered by this if this wasn’t a book that was really doing a relatively nice job of writing the anxiety issues of Steffi and was shining light on what it must be like growing up deaf… I guess I just expected a little better from a book that was proudly showing characters with MH health issues that it shouldn’t then have kinda belittled another type of illness. This isn’t some darkly sardonic book with black humour that pushes the boundaries. This is a light teen romance with some grittier moments. That comment was unnecessary and could have been edited to maybe say something like ‘you guys are so sugary sweet you could cause a tooth ache’. I’m not a writer obvs so not that exact line! Just something a little more innocuous.
On a whole I really did love this though and I do recommend it to anyone looking for a light teen romance with a more realistic feel than the standard cutesy YA fare that’s out there.