Take The Key and Lock Her Up

Contains spoilers. See my review for All Fall Down and See How They Run

Take the Key and Lock Her Up
Embassy Row Book Three
Written by Ally Carter
Mystery, Contemporary
Published February 2017
336 Pages
Thank you to Scholastic Australia
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★★☆
The princess is dead. Long live the princess.

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed… Or so everyone thought. Now Grace Blakely knows the truth. There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution, which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne. And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.
The royal bloodline ended the night the castle was besieged, a family slain and an interim King reigning over the citizens of Adria. Grace's mother believed in children's fairytales, the night the royal family had perished, a samaritan protecting baby princess Amelia from the brutal revolution, the royal bloodline surviving.

My Thoughts

Take The Key and Lock Her Up begins mere moments after the revelations of See How They Run, Jamie is injured, Alexei a fugitive and Grace is determined to carry her mother's legacy, finding evidence of the lost princess.

Grace Blakely is a descendant of baby Amelia, a centuries old mystery that the government and Society of Ardia are determined to protect. Since moving into the embassy to live with her grandfather, Grace has been embroiled in controversy. Grace is relentless in her search to uncover her mother's findings, needing evidence as leverage against Adria and the royal family who occupy the throne. I admire Grace's tenacity as a character and enjoyed her relationship with her brother and love interest Alexei, who are now fleeing Adria with the assistance of Dominic. 

While in previous installments, the murder mystery aspect added drama and intrigue, the focus is now placed upon on Grace, while the narration of friends and embassy residents were left unresolved. Grace is a character who has struggled with her mental health, placed within a health facility leaving her distressed. Her anguish and post traumatic stress disorder is now absent, apart from the occasional inner monologue reminiscing the death of her mother. Unfortunately, the storyline felt entirely repetitive. One aspect I found fascinating about the series were the ancient and secretive society of women, political puppeteers that seemed a convenient device of justification for the lawless Embassy Row, where adults in authoritarian positions maim and murder. Unfortunately it wasn't fully explored.

Suspension of disbelief was virtually impossible. Although entertaining, I wasn't immersed or as engaged as I've been with the previous installments but was surprised by the ending and a little disheartened by the vigilante justice imposed. The Embassy Row series has been wonderfully entertaining, secrecy and intrigue creating a narrative that will enthrall and delight readers but unfortunately the finale left me feeling disappointed.

Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence

Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence
Written by Doris Pilkington Nugi Garimara
Biographical, Historical, Australia
136 Pages
Thank you to UQP
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★★★★
The remarkable true story of three young girls who cross the harsh Australian desert on foot to return to their home.

Following an Australian government edict in 1931, black aboriginal children and children of mixed marriages were gathered up by whites and taken to settlements to be assimilated. In Rabbit Proof Fence, award winning author Doris Pilkington traces the captivating story of her mother, Molly, one of three young girls uprooted from her community in Southwestern Australia and taken to the Moore River Native Settlement.

At the settlement, Molly and her relatives Gracie and Daisy were forbidden to speak their native language, forced to abandon their aboriginal heritage, and taught to be culturally white. After regular stays in solitary confinement, the three girls scared and homesick planned and executed a daring escape from the grim camp, with its harsh life of padlocks, barred windows, and hard cold beds.

The girls headed for the nearby rabbit proof fence that stretched over 1,000 miles through the desert toward their home. Their journey lasted over a month, and they survived on everything from emus to feral cats, while narrowly avoiding the police, professional trackers, and hostile white settlers. Their story is a truly moving tale of defiance and resilience.
In the nineteen thirties, three young girls were taken from their Indigenous families in Jigalong, removed by the descendants of white European settlers on behalf of the Australian Government. Fifteen year old Molly is a muda muda, a child born from her Indigenous mother and white English father, a man who tends to the maintenance of the rabbit proof fence that stretches across the land. Often tormented by Indigenous children, the Australian government believe that children born of white fathers can be assimilated into white communities, toiling the land and provided an education.

Molly, eleven year old Gracie and nine year old Daisy, all born to white father's are removed from their community only to begin the long, arduous and liberating nine week journey from the oppressive Moore River Native Settlement back to the Jigalong community. Where they belong.

My Thoughts

Australia has a turbulent and atrocious history of the treatment of our traditional land owners, the Indigenous communities that have endured  at the mercy of white European settlement. The late Doris Pilkington has created a narration of her mother's story, born to an Indigenous mother and white English father, deprived of her community when removed from her land to be placed into government custody along with her younger sister and cousin. Throughout the introduction, the author discusses the history of white settlement, communities slaughtered and indigenous women taken and used as sexual servants. Isolated from their communities, the government introduced a policy allowing land to be claimed by white, European farming families. Land that belonged to Indigenous Australians.

The Moore River Native Settlement is a regimented encampment, housing Indigenous children born to white fathers, taken from their communities under the belief that partially white children are superior and can therefore become disciplined servants for white families. Molly is a free spirited young lady and along with Gracie and Daisy, is determined to return to her elders and Jigalong community, the distance spanning over a thousand miles by following the Rabbit Proof fence. The Rabbit Proof Fence was constructed in the early nineteen hundreds to subdue the migration of rabbits into Western Australia from the eastern states and now becomes a beacon of hope and home.

Throughout the narrative, transcripts and newspaper articles are included about the girls disappearance, only further verifying that the young Indigenous girls are little more than a commodity. Although the journey is harrowing and confronting, the terrain is breathtaking as the girls navigate the parched spiritual land. One of the loveliest aspects about Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence is the sense of family throughout our Indigenous communities and the respect for elders that is instilled in their children.

Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence is an integral aspect of Australian history, placing the importance upon the continuing treatment of our Indigenous communities and the destruction brought by white European settlement. A horrific historical narrative that is beautifully written and illustrates the strength and determination of three remarkable young girls. 

Frostblood

Frostblood
Frostblood Saga Book One
Written by Elly Blake
Published January 10th 2017
384 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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★★★★☆
In a land governed by the cruel Frostblood ruling class, seventeen year old Ruby is a Fireblood who has spent most of her life hiding her ability to manipulate heat and light - until the day the soldiers come to raid her village and kill her mother. Ruby vows revenge on the tyrannous Frost King responsible for the massacre of her people.

But Ruby's powers are unpredictable... And so are the feelings she has for Arcus, the scarred, mysterious Frostblood warrior who shares her goal to kill the Frost King, albeit for his own reasons. When Ruby is captured by the Frost King's men, she's taken right into the heart of the enemy. Now she only has one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who took everything from her and in doing so, she must unleash the powers she's spent her whole life withholding.
For generations, Firebloods have been coveted throughout the kingdom, the Frost King lineage decimating villages in their search for a Fireblood to fulfill the prophecy. Ruby is a Fireblood, her power unharnessed since her grandmother passed, her mother a simple healer who is determined to protect her only child. Until the soldiers pillage the small settlement and Ruby is captured attempting to flee.

Abused and tormented, Ruby is imprisoned and awaiting her fate when she is freed and taken to the Abbey. Under the watchful eye of the monastery and Arcus, a lone Frostblood warrior as infuriating as he is handsome, Ruby is determined to avenge the destruction and senseless killings of impoverished villages and the genocide of the Fireblood lineage.

My Thoughts

Frostblood was enchanting and delightful, reminiscent of wondrous fairytales and captivating fables.

Seventeen year old Ruby is a Fireblood in a kingdom under the tyrannical command of the Frost King, where villages are tormented and burnt to the ground in the search for Firebloods. Ruby can create fire in a kingdom of ice and frost, making her a commodity. Ruby's narrative was compelling. Although she's aware of her ability to create fire, Ruby defies her mother's wishes and practices perfecting her craft each day under the guise of the forest canopy. She's feisty and blinded by revenge as the Frost King's guard burns her village to the ground and takes her captive only to be freed.

Arcus is a character veiled in secrecy, hostile and detached as he begins to assist Ruby in cultivating her abilities. The tentative friendship was charming and incredibly entertaining as the two used thinly veiled insults to conceal their growing attraction.


The romance was absolutely lovely, gentle and gathers a gradual momentum. Both Arcus and Ruby are tenacious and I loved their enchanting courtship amidst the insults and mockery. 
You don’t know the effect your words have on me, Lady Firebrand. It took years to build up this ice. You will melt it and then I will be broken.
Blinded by revenge, both Ruby and Arcus share a common ambition, to abolish the Frost King and protect the monastery but the King has plans for the liberated Fireblood.

I was enamored by the world Elly Blake envisioned, beautiful and captivating. I was pleasantly delighted by Frostfire. An admirable an enthralling debut that held me captive until the final page.

Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones
Written by Craig Silvey
Contemporary, #LoveOzYA, Mystery
Published March 31st 2009
394 Pages
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Purchased
Published by Allen & Unwin Australia
★★★★☆
Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.

Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it's here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.

And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.
In the town of Corrigan, a knocking breaks the silence of night. Town pariah Jasper Jones is outside Charlie's window, frantic, desperate and with a secret that will devastate the community. Thirteen year old Charlie knows Jasper only by reputation, his father's alcoholism and rebellious notoriety, racism thinly disguised as small town prejudice due to Jasper's Indigenous mother.

While navigating Jasper's circumstances, Charlie begins to observe the injustices of Corrigan. The racial torment his best friend Jeffrey Lu endures as he is determined to play cricket for the small community, why his mother is so abrasive and unnecessarily stern, Eliza, the town recluse Mad Jack Lionel and Jasper, a boy who under devastating circumstances, has taught Charlie to live.

My Thoughts

Jasper Jones is an honest portrayal of the nineteen sixties in small town Australia, confronting, compelling and captivating.

The Community of Corrigan is a charming town, they're passionate about their sporting prowess, upholding the law and being pleasant to their neighbours. As long as your neighbours are white. On a warm Australian summer night, fourteen year old Charlie Bucktin walked through Corrigan with sixteen year old Jasper Jones, his innocence and naivety abandoned to the night.
How strange and abandoned and unsettled I am. Like a snowdome paper weight that's been shaken. There's a blizzard in my bubble. Everything in my world that was steady and sure and sturdy has been shaken out of place, and it's now drifting and swirling back down in a confetti of debris.
Jasper Jones is a quiet, intelligent, part Indigenous Australian young man in a predominantly white town. He's treated as an outcast and the harbinger of disorder, culpable for crime and leading their youth astray. Since losing his mother, his alcoholic father had abandoned the family home and his son, leaving the sixteen year old to fend for himself. Jasper's discovery is sickening, incredibly confronting and violent but imperative to the narrative.

Charlie is young and charmingly naive. His mother is verbally abusive and acidic, frustrated at her life cemented in small town Australia. His father, a local teacher and a strong advocate for the written word. Charlie's father is a kind and gentle soul, withstanding the vitriolic attitude of his wife. His love of words has encouraged Charlie to read and aspire to become an author himself.

The town of Corrigan is fueled by racial tension and exclusion during the Vietnam war era, experienced by Charlie's best friend Jeffrey Lu and his family, having migrated by Vietnam. Jeffrey was a wonderful friend to Charlie, supportive and endlessly amusing. The racism and cruelty that the Lu family faces was deplorable. The casual bullying by the local cricket team that Jeffrey was so desperately seeking inclusion, the physical and racial verbal abuse by teens and complacent adults was nothing short of disgusting. Jeffrey was inspirational, determined to prove his sporting worth despite his small stature.

Although the community mentality has begun to progress, Jasper Jones is confronting, especially for those who have experienced violence, racism or prejudice, although Charlie's white narrative tends to obscure the explicit nature for the teen audience. An important fictional narrative of Australian history.

It was phenomenal.

Caraval

Caraval
Caraval Book One
Written by Stephanie Garber
Fantasy, Romance
Published January 31st 2017
416 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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★★★★☆
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far away, once a year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Under their father's oppressive rule, Scarlett and Donatella dream of fantastical far away worlds, where magic and freedom reigns. Year after year, Scarlett has been penning letters to the eccentric recluse Legend, the master of ceremonies throughout Caraval. When an invitation arrives, Scarlett is hesitant to leave her small island nation only days before her pending nuptials but enlists the assistance of Julian, a devious sailor who promises to deliver Scarlett and Donatella to Caraval in exchange for their remaining invitation. The game has begun.

Donatella has been captured as part of Caraval and Scarlett and Julian will need to join forces to solve each riddle. Beware, nothing at Caraval is what it seems. 

My Thoughts

On the conquered Isle of Trisda, siblings Scarlett and Donatella live under the oppressive rule of their father, a callous man who has betrothed Scarlett in order to keep her complacent. Scarlett is aware that her only escape is to become a bride, until an invitation arrives from the Master Legend, inviting Scarlett and Donatella to his island to participate in Caraval. Scarlett and Donatella have a turbulent relationship, although care for one another deeply. Their father cruelty contends his daughters against one another, often abusive and suppressing their freedom. After deliberation, the siblings are assisted by Julian on their journey to the island of Caraval, where Donatella is taken hostage under the guise of entertainment and the game has already begun.

I enjoyed the slow progression of the tentative friendship between Scarlett and sailor Julian, despite Julian's secrecy and Scarlett's reluctance to compromise. What emerges is a slow burning and sultry romance. Sexy, sexy romance. Scarlett is feisty and often judgmental but ultimately yearns for freedom, especially for sister Donatella. Julian's character is enigmatic and an opportunist but to find Donatella, Scarlett must place her faith in Julian's ability to navigate Caraval.
Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.
Scarlett is betrothed to a man only known through his penmanship, torn between her developing attraction for the arrogant and flirtatious sailor while anxious not to anger her quick tempered father. He's incredibly violent and rather than punish Scarlett, he will physically assault Donatella and Scarlett is determined to protect her sister.

One of the loveliest aspects of Caraval is the atmospheric beauty. Lyrical and exquisite, I was enamored by De Los Sueños, the private island where Caraval is held while shrouded in magic and an enchanting illusion of adventure. Beneath the surface, the island threatens to expose the sinister nature of Caraval. Deliciously dark, the world building is breathtaking, mature and refined.
Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or performance. It's the closest you'll ever find yourself magic in this world.
Reminiscent of the lyricism of Laini Taylor, Stephanie Garber's debut made my heart flutter with delight. Caraval is wonderfully atmospheric, beautifully lyrical and an absolute pleasure to have immersed myself within the pages.

The Flywheel

The Flywheel
Written by Erin Gough
Contemporary, LGBT, #LoveOzYA
Published February 1st 2015
309 Pages
Purchased
Published by Hardie Grant Egmont
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★★★★★
Seventeen year old Delilah drops out of high school when her romance with another girl goes horribly wrong. Preferring chaos to bullying, Delilah makes it her mission to save her dad's crumbling café, the Flywheel, while he finds himself overseas.

Accompanied by her charming troublemaker best friend Charlie, Delilah sets out to save the cafe, keep Charlie out of prison, and maybe get a date with Rosa, the beautiful flamenco dancer from across the road. But when life is messy enough as it is, can girl on girl romance ever have a happy ending?

This hilarious and accident prone novel is about how to be heartbroken and how to fall in love, about rising above high school drama and wrestling with problems that are, almost too big. It speaks directly to teens and assures them that they're not alone, and does it all with an abundance of heart.
While her father is on a reluctant journey of self discovery after his divorce, seventeen year old Delilah never imagined she would be managing the Flywheel, the small independent coffee house her father owns. Ostracised by her peers, Delilah is tormented for her sexuality and a secret relationship with callous Georgina, in which the teaching faculty believe she had coerced the popular student.

When the manager of the Flywheel is deported and her staff members pilfering dwindling profits, Deliah has no other option but to devote her time to the conservation of the small business with the assistance of best friend Charlie. Reluctant to love again, Delilah's infatuation with flamenco dancer Rosa and Charlie's chaotic romance, Delilah will be forced to contend with Crunch, a large business trying to force the Flywheel into insolvency.

My Thoughts

Delilah finds herself in a precarious position, running her father's small business while he's on an extended journey of self discovery and walking away from her education to ensure the coffee house survives against the push of big business. I absolutely adored Delilah. She's a resilient young woman who although self aware, still feels adolescent fragility as she navigates friendships, relationships and responsibility. She continues to endure homophobia, targeted accusations by her peers. Delilah is a lesbian and after a physical relationship with a fellow student, subjected to taunts that the education facility ignore.

Charlie is adventurous, boisterous and a charming young man with an appreciation of the fairer sex, seemingly infatuated with the thrill of the chase. Charlie was of an immense support to Delilah, thriving as The Flywheel's new in house chef, praised by patrons and creating a new environment by uplifting revenue for the flailing business. Charlie was hilarious, his jovial nature providing banter between he and Delilah and laugh out loud moments.

Although Delilah's parents are noticeably absent for almost the entire narration, Delilah speaks of an incredible fondness for her father and the support and unconditional love he provides, her reasoning behind wanting to save The Flywheel from bankruptcy rather than ask her father to return home. Delilah's relationship with her mother felt incredibly strained, having separated and moved to Melbourne with her younger, questionable lover. Insisting Delilah refer to her by her first name rather than mother, wanting to recapture her youth.

The romance between Delilah and Rosa was often turbulent but the epitome of teen relationships and their complexities. After her experience with Georgia, Delilah isn't interested in another covert relationship which poses an issue with Rosa's conservative family, unaware of her sexuality. It was a great exploration of the stages of sexual preferences and tolerances for experiences that are not your own.

The Flywheel is why I read Australian young adult fiction, wonderfully diverse narratives that represent our communities. Debut author Erin Gough is remarkable.

No Virgin

Trigger warning. This book contains a rape scene and victim intimidation.

No Virgin
Written by Anne Cassidy
Contemporary, Abuse, Mature Themes
Published January 2017
183 Pages
Thank you to Bonnier and Allen & Unwin
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★★★☆
My name is Stacey Woods and I was raped.

Stacey Woods is a seventeen year old girl who works hard at school and who tries to manage a complicated family set up. After a row she storms out. She meets Harry Connaught who seems to be everything she wants in a boy. But Harry has other plans for Stacey.

Stacey is the victim of a terrible sexual attack. She does not feel able to go to the police, or talk about it to anybody other than her best friend, Patrice. Patrice, outraged, when she cannot persuade her to go to the police, encourages Stacey to write everything down.

This is Stacey's story.
Stacey is a quiet, shy young woman who's petite and often forgotten. Since her younger sister became a mother at the tender age of fourteen, Stacey is often manipulated into caring for her child and pushed aside by her mother who has an inclination towards her younger sibling. Once a reprieve, her father's partner seems to scarcely tolerate his children and lately her closest confidant Patrice has been spending time with another, leaving Stacey feeling discarded and alone.

He's charming, charismatic and offers the seventeen year old refuge. Feeling resentful and rebellious, Stacey accepts his hospitality. Harry is endearing, attentive and is the perfect gentleman, luring Stacey into a false sense of security.

My Thoughts. Mild Spoilers Ahead

No Virgin is the harrowing, traumatic and compelling narrative of seventeen year old Stacey, the victim of Rape.

The reader is introduced to Stacey as a frustrated seventeen year old, a young woman living in the shadow of friend Patrice and placated by her mother who rationalises her younger sibling's behaviour. Stacey is demoralised by her sister and her feelings disregarded, ultimately compelling her to seek solace by temporarily leaving home. Stacey is demure and quietly spoken, sitting in the small coffee house sketching patrons when she's approached by the charming and handsome Harry. Their attraction is undeniable, so when Harry offers Stacey refuge, she accepts. An act of defiance against her mother.

No Virgin isn't a contemporary romance, although Harry's charisma will lure readers into a false sense of security. Stacey's narrative is veracious and compelling. Preceding the sexual assault, Stacey feels a compulsion towards Harry as he's attractive, alluring and compassionate. He's also a predator. The impact of Stacey's sexual assault is profound and confronting. She's incapable of verbalising the trauma of rape and at Patrice's suggestion, documents her experience.
After the rape I didn't leave straight away. I was so shocked. I stayed in the bathroom with the door locked. I sat on the floor beside the toilet and felt the cold tiles against my legs, my toes curled on the ceramic floor.
The trauma Stacey experiences is palatable. As a victim of sexual assault, Stacey internalises her trauma and only confides in Patrice about the incident, leading to writing down the precursor that lead to that moment. Experiencing remorse, despondency and insecurity, Stacey reflects on her brief relationship with Harry and impact of the assault isn't truly realised until she begins to revisit the incident through her written words. I was enraged how the perpetrator normalised the sexual assault, maintaining she was an active participant. Much in the same way rape culture perpetuates that the victim is at fault, rather than placing the blame upon the predator.
The story, once I'd written it and read it over a few times, was like a testament to my own stupidity. How could I have been so naive, so swept up in my own romantic daydreams, not to realise that there was a subtext to what was happening?
Patrice was an incredible support for Stacey, persevering with gentle suggestions to speak to a crisis councilor and report the assault.

Although No Virgin is an incredibly poignant and crucial narrative, I couldn't understand Stacey's attraction to Harry after the assault and unfortunately, those psychological elements were not explored. The event progression before the assault felt inconsequential, compared to the sexual assault and emotional impact. I would have preferred to have the emotional turmoil and justice explored for not only Stacey's character, but teens who may have experienced sexual assault themselves.

Blog Tour: A Quiet Kind Of Thunder

A Quiet Kind Of Thunder
Written by Sara Barnard
Contemporary, Romance, Diverse Fiction
Published January 12th 2017
320 Pages
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
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★★★★
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.
From four years of age, Steffi had been diagnosed with Select Mutism, a precursor to an often debilitating social anxiety disorder. Now at seventeen years of age and using basic sign language when she cannot find her words, Steffi has devised an agreement with her parents. Steffi's one ambition is to attend university, studying animal welfare. The proposal, to begin verbalising to her peers for her parents to consider a further education. With her best friend now attending college, Steffi has never felt as distant and alone... Until Rhys.

Rhys is a passionate, friendly and charismatic young man who also communicates through sign language, having transferred from an aesthetic and sensory environment and enrolling to provide himself with the challenge of navigate the auditory environment of high school. Conversing with the use of sign language, begins a tentative friendship developing into a gentle relationship of tender words and lingering kisses. 

My Thoughts

Steffi was a wonderful character, a precocious girl with a gentle disposition. Since the tender age of only four years old. Steffi has suffered from selective mutism and in recent years has developed severe and paralysing anxiety, tormented by her peers. Through therapy and now medication, Steffi has been working towards her ambition of learning to speak, only comfortable when speaking with family members and her best friend, who is now enrolled at University. Steffi's anxiety was palpable, her internal monologue was fascinating although pensive, her frustration at not being able to physically speak due to her anxiety was distressing especially seeing she was offered little support from the education faculty.
I move slowly so people won't notice I'm there, because running in public is as loud as a shout. 
Her parents now divorced and remarried to their respective partners, Steffi shares how her mother would often manipulate the young girl into speaking, frustrated at her lack of progress. She was against the prospect of her daughter learning basic sign language to communicate, believing it would hinder her development and thus failing as a parent. Thank goodness for Steffi's father who was supportive and although concerned about his daughter, refused to limit Steffi's ability and encouraged her from a young age. Their lives all irrevocably changed after the tragedy they rarely speak of, but binds their family together.
Meekness is my camouflage. Silence is my forcefield.
Rhys was absolutely lovely, vivacious and inspiring. Rhys is hearing impaired and communicates with the use of sign language. Having previously attended a sensory school, he's now enrolled in public education as a challenge and precursor to becoming a games developer. Placed together through a shared understanding of sign language to communicate, Rhys and Steffi begin a wonderful friendship based on a fondness for one another, rather than their perceived limitations. It was one of the loveliest romances I've had the pleasure of reading in young adult. A gradual relationship built upon friendship and a mutual respect despite their differences.

I appreciated Steffi's friendship with her best friend, although Steffi seemed a little too judgmental when disclosing her fondness for relationships. September Samatar is passionate and impulsive, the two having been friends since their mothers having met at the Refugee Council. September brings a sense cultural diversity throughout the storyline, which also touches on the racism the young teen experiences. I did feel Steffi begun to abandon her best friend in favour of Rhys at times.

As their relationship develops, it was wonderful to see that neither character was denied the teenage experience. A Quiet Kind of Thunder also explores mental health, friendships, relationships and romantic relationships. It is remarkably sexually positive and promotes safe sex practices in which I applaud Sara Barnard for her pragmatical approach.

Sincere and endearing, A Quiet Kind Of Thunder was a beautifully written narrative that breaks down the barriers of communication. Exquisite, wonderful diverse and explores the infinite potential of the human condition.
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