“Review | A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard” BY Shannan

“Review | A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard” BY Shannan

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Title: A Quiet Kind of Thundera-quite-kind-of-thunder-by-sara-barnard

Author: Sara Barnard
Summary: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.

I picked up my copy of this novel back in January when it was first released, I initially…

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Park #FridayFeeling

Park #FridayFeeling

We made our way towards the corner of the park. I think we passed the building with the trees on every terrace, and the buses faced us at every stop with their unloading commotions and their boarding confused hordes looking for cards and change. But mostly I didn’t notice if there were gems in the din, or new fashions in the store windows, no, mostly, I listened to the music of Doug’s chatter because I love the sound of his voice — it comforts me and I know when the song of his voice turns tender, when I laugh, that he loves to be with me, and when my word of acknowledgment makes him smile and pause, I know he loves me like the humming bird loves the flower however fast the flutter of his wings. I think perhaps I dress to be his nectar.

Doug said, “Could this be a Phthalocyanine Blue sky?”

“Huh what?”

“I mean, it seems like a god has lent you his brushes, and you’ve painted my sky. Is it you who paints my world?”

“No, it is you who shines on my tears, penetrates the rainbow of my feelings and I show you the canvas of the world as I see it. I look in your eyes and pray they will see every color that makes you happy and if I would be on your palette, brush me.” His hand brushed my cheek and touched my lips, but we nearly collided with a passerby who said, “Idiots!”

Doug said, “Maybe we are foolish to speak poetically. I mean, if we don’t speak colloquially or idiomatically in English, and develop such bad speaking habits, then how will we blend into the up-top world?”

I was a little insulted — I thought I was flowing and in tune with a romantic moment. I said, “No we’re not foolish. A little blend, a little metaphor. All things in moderation, as they say, but I say, except in matters of love, and then, and then, um…”

“Um, uh, and then the silent blend,” said Doug as he kissed my hand, and then we crashed into a hot dog stand.

Doug said, “Um, we’ll take two with sauerkraut.”

I said, “Mustard and chili.”

“Look, there’s a hansom cab parked up ahead and someone is giving the horse a carrot, and see over there the portrait artist doing someone…”

“Dougie Wougie Wougie, yeah, why don’t we cross over to the hotel side and then cross to the park? Yeah…”

“OK. You’ve got mustard and chili dripping down your face.” The vendor gave Doug a napkin and he wiped my face clean with love, patience, and indulgence if I may speak in such terms — I don’t know if I know the words for this moment.

Diary Entries 88-89: Opening A Box Trot

Diary Entries 88-89: Opening A Box Trot

ENTRY 88

I told Doug all about the Kmpamew and I said I thought maybe he should come to live with me there during my interim appointment, just until the new Council is sworn-in in the New Year.

Doug said, “You know, they lied to us. Didn’t we always think the caves were barren and underpopulated, especially after so many moved up-top to live? They didn’t say anything about a palace and a secret city.”

“Yeah, we missed an entire world. How could we have not known about an isolated and secret society in our midst…?”

“And did you ever see any workers coming and going from there?”

“No.”

“And these people are not any of the crowd in the main cave that we saw on the day of the last crisis?”

“No. They don’t dress the same and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before.”

“Speaking of dressing: you were organizing your closet and you were going to finish unpacking the seven chests of the Nipusindi.”

“Well, yeah, but I’ve been busy…”

“Well now that you’re part of the upper-upper strata of society, you may want to wear some of the clothes from the chest.”

“I don’t know what to choose or where to put it all and, um, how to organize…”

“I would think they have endless closets in a palace, and some kind of servant who can help you. Didn’t you say there’s a large staff?”

“Well, I just met the Gavicte and I wanted to study some documents before seeing my Mieta … Oh damn, oh Kievifkwa!”

“What’s Kievifkwa?”

“Oh hell, it’s just our general all around curse word, or expletive… you know how I am with definitions…Oh Kievifkwa! And damn, how am I going to remember all these rules and stuff…”

“What stuff is that?”

I explained to Doug what little I knew about the weapons in the armory and about the rules for intruders. I said, “There’s a possibility that James Ziohat might accidentally drill into the ceiling of the Kmpamew.”

“What?”

“It’ll never happen: the little twerp just talks big. His grand plans never go anywhere… but I’ve got better news…”

“Yes?”

“I get to paint on the ceiling of the Kmpamew.”

“Really?”

“Yup.”

ENTRY 89

A Walk in the Park

I decided that Doug and I are too obsessed with our projects and we should just go for a walk. He’s right about one thing: I should finish unpacking the seven chests of the Nipusindi. But I just dragged Doug into my bedroom, threw open the lids to all the chests, and started pulling things out and piling them onto my bed. I said, “Which of these do you think I’d look best in?” Doug seemed to point to one at random.

Doug said, “That one. The Royal purple dress with the gold trim or whatever…”

I stripped off the plain green dress that I had been wearing and I looked over at another of the chests. I threw a collection of colorful bras onto the bed. I said, “Which of these?”

Doug said, “First take this one off,” and he unfastened my plain white bra. He tickled his fingers over my nipples.

I said, “I’m getting dressed, not undressed. Remember?”

“Oh yeah.”

“So which would you choose?”

“Um, the one with the metal breastplate — the warrior princess look or um, whatever it’s called…”

“OK. But I’ll do it. I’m putting it on, not off.” Yes, I thought, we do need a walk in the fresh air. I slipped into the Royal purple dress. I said, “How does that look?”

“Great.”

“Does it fit? It doesn’t bulge anywhere?”

“No, no, no. It fits perfectly. Your body is perfect.”

I pulled out some other dresses. I said, “Maybe this one would be a better color?”

“Well, um, uh, that whole bunch looks like the wrong size?”

I said, “Uh, yeah, those seem different.” Then something weird happened: I found myself saying, “Of course those are different. They are the slave uniforms.”

“What did you say?”

“Oh, I don’t know why I said that. Um, OK, I’ll just put on some make-up and we’ll take a walk. OK?”

“Fine.”

I rushed around and quickly got ready. I took Doug’s hand and we were out the door. “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you…”

“Yes?”

“Whenever I go in or out from your apartment, I never see anyone… ”

“Uh, well, actually the whole building is empty except for me. All of the other apartments are just there to provide addresses and false identities so Utcoozhoo can launder money. He sells precious metals and other things from the Tzalbihuki under different names. The wealth that the gods brought us is what gives us a source of income. If an inspector comes, we put someone in an apartment for the day.”

We walked down the clean well-lit hallway with the gold carpet and plain white walls. I said, “Well if this is your building, maybe I could practice painting murals on these empty walls.”

“Sure. Why not.”

We arrived at the elevator with the car ready. “Oh, well, now I understand why the elevator is always here.” We stepped in, and I pushed ‘L’. “But if there’s no one here, what do we do in an emergency?”

“Oh we have double backup.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, the original building plans don’t show it, but we took out several columns of apartments and we used two of those columns to make two extra elevator shafts.”

“Huh? How would we get out of here?”

“Well, see the handle on the side panel that says, ‘emergency only’?”

“Yeah.”

“That opens to a parallel shaft that has a hand operated pulley system with multiple shelves that fold at the top and bottom of the shaft to make a continuous loop.”

“Sounds complicated.”

“No, you just open the door, pull down the nearest shelf and hop on. You can hoist yourself up, or let gravity take you down. Wanna see?”

“No some other time.” The elevator opened onto our opulent lobby with the red carpet, blush couch, and the fish pond. “You know, maybe you should invite someone, and make them wait down here just so someone can use the couch.”

“I suppose, but it’s really just a front.”

“Ah, it’s a sunny day.” Doug opened the door for me and we walked to the corner. The sign said ‘WALK’, so we did — across the street into the honking, dodging the cars that had trapped themselves in the intersection at the change of light, and we swirled around the line at the hot dog stand. We pushed our way to the pedestrian flow that was moving in our direction. I said, “Let’s walk to the park.”

“Look at that tourist over there coming towards us: She’s wearing your purple dress.”

“No. It has a different collar … How do you know she’s a tourist?”

“By the way she’s looking up at the skyscrapers and looking everywhere like she wants to take in every sight.”

“Nice heels…”

“…yeah, stands tall, struts confidently with proud marching breasts…”

“What?”

“Never mind…”

The woman smiled and passed us by, but I became worried. “Did you feel that?”

“What? I think she said something but I couldn’t make it out.”

“No, I felt an upper Utd’mbts word.”

“I could have sworn she said, ‘Yes, I’m a tourist of sorts.’ ”

“No. She didn’t speak. She pushed an Utd’mbts word into your subconscious and you allowed it to bubble up into your consciousness, though a little distorted.”

“Hmm. Now that you mention it, it did feel like upper Utd’mbts. I haven’t tried using that in years…”

“I saw ‘Old Faithful’, the geyser at Yellowstone National Park, a plane to the city, a car to her hotel room, and her walking here… and she thinks you’re cute…”

“Hmm, um. Her life story in a second?”

“Sort of …”

“Wow. Great. Cool.”

“No. I’m not so sure it’s benign. I’m worried.”

Diary Entry 87: Missing Time

Diary Entry 87: Missing Time

ENTRY 87

Missing Time

Now I’m really starting to worry: I think I’m having blackouts. I remember after leaving the Kmpamew that I gave Utcoozhoo my report on James Ziohat, and then I went to my old sacred quarters in the old main corridor that I was familiar with and that Doug had been to.

But something major is happening because I woke up in the morning back at Doug’s apartment with no memory of how I got there. Other than the missing time, I woke up in bed with Doug, feeling wonderful, but something is missing. I think I’m back to myself, but where was I and what did I do? I got dressed quickly, had some coffee to wake up, and went back to the bedroom. Still a puzzle.

I kissed Doug and he woke up smiling. I said, “Do I seem normal to you?”

“Normal?” he said, “When have you ever been normal? You’re extraordinary…”

“Yeah, right … um, how is your novel going?”

“Well, being absorbed in the world of my characters, feeling as if they actually exist and are real, I wonder what is real. Do we live in a dream? Is everything we perceive just our imagination? How do we know this is real and …?”

“Evewapei! ”

“Huh?”

“It means something like, ‘Philosophers can say the world is unreal until reminded of pain, chocolate, and sex.’ ”

“One word for that?”

“Actually, it’s more than that. Most Utd’mbts words are symbols for concepts. There are different levels of sophistication for the Utd’mbts language. Utcoozhoo says I’m mostly at the baby talk babble stage where a symbol stands for a sound, but higher forms of Utd’mbts have nothing to do with sound. There is the ‘thing’, the actuality of what is referred to, and then different levels of symbolism which are to re-trigger the experience of the ‘thing’. ” I wiggled around in the bed and got up on my elbows.

Doug sat up and stared into my eyes. “Huh, what?”

“Oh, I know, I don’t know what I’m saying exactly. I’m just bluffing. But now I’m supposed to do better.”

“What do you mean ‘now’. Now what?”

“Uh, well, the whole Grand Council can ‘speak’ the upper levels of Utd’mbts and they’re probably maneuvering behind my back to keep control. I think only Utcoozhoo is watching my back.”

Doug put his head in his hands. “OK. Try this again. The highest level of Utd’mbts is what?”

I lay down and stared at the ceiling. “A word is a push-dream. The word is a trigger to a two hour movie that occurs in a second. It doesn’t have speech but it has music, vision, smell, and flavor. It has a meaning and a taste. To speak, one would push the vision of the singing pigeon that is to be eaten without remorse… you devour the thing and you can ‘have your cake and eat it too.’ ”

Doug bounced on the bed a little. “This makes no sense.”

“It is: a word for a thought as complete as a dream.”

“Oh?”

“You have to do it to know it.”

“I tried a little of that sort of process but didn’t get far. If Evewapei then after death when the reality of the world stops for the individual, is there nothing? And if there is something, isn’t that more real or,… or, um, more permanent? Is anything real beyond the self… um, you’re giving me a headache…”

“Utcoozhoo always says, ‘Jipacy!’ ”

“Which is?”

“Only love is real.”

“That doesn’t sound like what Utcoozhoo would say… he’s never definite.”

“OK. That’s what I say.”

Diary Entry 86: A Tour of the Palace & a Promise of a Flying Lesson

Diary Entry 86: A Tour of the Palace & a Promise of a Flying Lesson

ENTRY 86

Oh Kievifkwa, this has been all too overwhelming. I’ve only spent one overnight at the Kmpamew. I’ve postponed my appointment with Apacevj, the Mieta. I’m not looking forward to having a formal teacher. I mean, Utcoozhoo is a fatherly figure, knows when I don’t understand something, and knows how to explain a subject with a story. His homework can be difficult, but I don’t mind doing it for him. He doesn’t push me too hard, but guides me toward the subtleties. Utcoozhoo is always very patient with me, but Yenkoi, now, I’ve come to think, is in a rush or panic about something, and very eager for me to get started with Apacevj.

Oh Kievifkwa, I nearly ran screaming from the Kmpamew (but I was calm and polite to Yenkoi, actually). I told the Gavicte I had to consult with Utcoozhoo urgently, and that seemed to placate him. I told Utcoozhoo I had to go back to Doug’s apartment to unwind, because I was still feeling weird and not myself. Oddly, he didn’t object, seemed preoccupied, and just thanked me for the report on James Ziohat.

I don’t know why I didn’t want to stay at the Kmpamew. It’s very luxurious. Yenkoi, proudly gave me the grand tour and told me the statistics: there are 800 rooms, 25 State Rooms, 60 guest rooms, 100 offices, 200 staff rooms, and 100 bathrooms. Doug would be impressed with the State Dining Room and the kitchens and the chefs, and … . Oh Kievifkwa, I don’t need all that.

I’ve chosen my Royal study and bedroom. Oops, I’ve forgotten the correct terms for those, but anyway, I guess, considering how scatterbrain I can be sometimes, Yenkoi has done the best he could.

Well, I can say this: the Grand Ballroom is magnificent, with a sky high ceiling and with a seemingly endless staircase, and thanks to Utcoozhoo’s instructions, the Gavicte took extraordinary measures to accommodate my tastes. When Yenkoi said, I have a special surprise for you, I thought, oh no, now what. We had entered the huge room through the main entrance off the sacred corridor.

But he had said, “We’ve taken special measures for your Grand Ballroom. We’ve hung Velijdiko that reflect your esthetic tastes while still functioning quite well… ” He spread his arms in a grand presentation gesture.

“Velijdiko?”

“It’s drapery or curtains made from the traditional fabric of fiber-optic threads, and carbon nano-tubes, joined with the standard interstitial crystalline rubies and sapphires and with rare-earth wave-guides. But the enhancements are adjusted to… ”

I shifted my weight from one impatient foot to the other. “Too much information for me right now, um…”

“Yes, Fevepo Zawmb’yee, let’s just say, it’s beautiful adjustable-color curtains that also act as a communication device and antenna. Will this do for today?”

“Yes, thank you, Gavicte Yenkoi. I’m sorry, I interrupted you — you were going to say?”

Yenkoi gestured and we walked across the expansive marble floor. Yenkoi tilted his head: “Look up at the Gijlek, um, the frescoes…”

I looked up at the ceiling. Beautiful landscape paintings adorned the surface. I said, “Wow. It’s great and so intricate, but the ceiling is so far away and … Oh, didn’t you say before that you had a ‘special surprise’ for me? Is this it?”

“No, Fevepo Zawmb’yee. Walk with me to the center of the room.”

We walked across landscape mosaics embedded in the floor, meadows and flowers, deer and fruit trees. As we approached the center, I could see a desk and chair on a long low platform resting in the center of the room. “That’s an odd place to place a desk,” I said.

“Well, step with me onto the platform. Be careful of the rim — step over it.”

We stepped up just an inch or so. I sat down in the chair. “What’s the rim for?”

“That’s so the chair doesn’t roll off the platform.”

“Well, then if it did, I could just roll around the marble floor… ”

“Not if you’re near the ceiling…”

“Oh?”

“Yes, well. It is after all a Reksipj, and if you’re flying around you have to be careful. Look up — do you see that white blank spot?”

“Yes.”

“That’s for your painting. Look at your desk.”

“Oh… tubes of my favorite acrylic paints. Let’s see. Yes, wow: you’ve given me all the primary and secondary colors, custom shades… um, extra-large white, yeah OK. Great. Brushes?”

“Yes, in the draws, all the standard types and sizes, and if you need it we can custom make a brush to your specifications.”

I told Yenkoi I’d take flying lessons some other time. Painting in the sky is something new for me, and I’ve never seen a bird use a paint brush so even though birds are good at flying, they must not think that painting is safe.”

Diary Entry 85: Yenkoi Is a Very Formal and Proper Regent

Diary Entry 85: Yenkoi Is a Very Formal and Proper Regent

I was given a new title “Fevepo”. It means ‘Your majesty High Priestess who is all powerful,’ or something. They don’t explain things very well, or I don’t catch on very easily. I think I’m in big trouble

ENTRY 85

Yenkoi seems like a trustworthy Gavicte. I think that if Utcoozhoo recommended him, he must be reliable, but maybe not. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, and maybe Utcoozhoo was forced by the Council to appoint their favorite. On the other hand, he does seem meticulous in the way he lays out all the caveats and options.

Yenkoi does pay attention to every detail with his penetrating brown eagle eyes. His deep voice resonates with careful enunciation and I imagine that his aquiline nose will vacuum in the scent of trouble, or sniff unkindly at the vulgar, he, standing tall and grandly thin, but all seems heavy on his officious bushy brow.

Yenkoi had said, “Fevepo Zawmb’yee, I am required to inform you that…”

“Excuse me for interrupting,” I said, “but what does ‘Fevepo’ mean?”

“Um, well… I see that your Mieta has a lot of work to do. Let me put it this way: it is a title or term of respect which means roughly, ‘Your majesty High Priestess who is all powerful.’ ”

“Oh, that’s scary. Maybe you could call me chicky babe…” I thought poor old Yenkoi was going to have a heart attack the way he stepped back and seemed to lose his balance, so I added, “I’m just joking — I’ll work with my Mieta to learn all these terms. Sorry, please continue Gavicte Yenkoi.” I did a little Royal nod.

“Yes, thank you. Fevepo Zawmb’yee, I am required to inform you that I will be acting in your name to exercise all executive powers of state while you study the Ofuye and legal documents. However, although it is generally not recommended, you have the power and right to overrule or rescind any order I have issued in your name, and may if you deem it necessary, issue an order or decree of your own which will be followed and obeyed by all subjects of the realm. You may write and promulgate laws to enforce your decrees as you deem necessary.”

“Kievifkwa!”

“Don’t worry. Your Mieta will instruct and inform you on the state of affairs, and I will handle everything until you are ready…”