Review: Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry

Book Title: Stronger Than You Know
Author: Jolene Perry
Published Date: September 1st, 2014
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonThe Book Depository
Synopsis from Goodreads:
After police intervention, fifteen-year-old Joy has finally escaped the trailer where she once lived with her mother and survived years of confinement and abuse. Now living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in a comfortable house, she’s sure she’ll never belong. Wracked by panic attacks, afraid to talk to anyone at her new school, Joy’s got a whole list of reasons why she’s crazy. With immense courage, Joy finds friends and grows closer to her new family. But just when hope is taking hold, she learns she must testify in her mother’s trial. Can she face her old life without losing her way in the new one? Will she ever truly belong in a world that seems too normal to be real?

Disclaimer: I received this book from Albert Whitman Teen via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Oh my goodness, this book shattered my heart and broke my feels. At the end of 2013, I read Perry’s previous book The Summer I Found You and while it was good overall, nothing could have prepared me for what this book would hold. I remember reading the synopsis on NetGalley and really wanting this book. I clicked the request button and crossed my fingers and toes. I was super excited to get approved for it and I couldn’t wait to be able to dive in.
Well, it was about 8 days ago that I finally sat down to read this book, and I read it cover to cover in one sitting. It was very different from The Summer I Found You, and actually it reminded me of some of my other favorite books, namely If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch and Fault Line and Bleed Like Me, both written by Christa Desir. All three of these aforementioned books are very dark contemporaries, and they are also ones that I really enjoyed and even loved.
When we first meet Joy, she’s settling into a “new normal” She’s now living with her aunt, uncle and two cousins. She’s still very quiet, prefers to be alone in her room. Family dinners are uncomfortable for her and her uncle Rob scares her. Soft voices are used around her so she’s not startled. She shies away from being touched and the smell of beer and cigarettes makes her nauseated and takes her back to the life she had with her mother…and those men. All of those men who hurt her. Especially Richard, the scariest one of them all.
I loved watching Joy’s journey. It’s was both beautiful and heartbreaking. So many times I wanted to reach through the Kindle and hug her. Her therapist, Lydia set these goals for her and at first Joy struggles to meet even one of them, but as she gets more comfortable, she slowly opens up a bit more. Even if it’s just to tell a lie to the incredibly cute Justin.She’s supposed to talk to at least one person at school, at first.
Her next assignment is to talk to her uncle Rob. Logically, she knows her uncle wouldn’t hurt her, but her body doesn’t realize that yet. So her anxiety manifests in strange ways, shaking being the number one way. When she first opened up to her uncle Rob, I full on sobbed. I could tell that this was a big deal for her and I was so incredibly proud of her for doing this.
“Everyone has a different normal, Joy.” -Uncle Rob-
As much as I loved Joy as a character, I loved her aunt Nicole almost as much. It was so clear to me that she blamed herself for not getting Joy out of there sooner and it killed me to see this sweet woman blaming herself. Nicole starts attending therapy with Joy’s therapist as well, which felt like a betrayal to Joy, until Nicole explains things.
“I was here for me. Because I feel like I should have rescued you a long time ago.” -Aunt Nicole-

Nicole carries a lot of guilt for not being there for Joy when she was younger. A conversation from when Joy was 8 years old still plays in Nicole’s head and she wishes she had done something more about it. I hated seeing her beat herself up about it. I wanted to hug Nicole hard.

Family has never really meant anything to Joy. She’s been abused, mistreated, malnourished her entire life, so she doesn’t really understand what it means to have a good family that loves you and protects you. Rob and Nicole give her that sense of security that she has never had before. They make her feel like she’s part of a family.

“I’m so heavy.” -Joy-
“Then you lean on us for a while. Let us carry you, Joy, until you’re not heavy anymore. That’s what family is.” -Uncle Rob-

There’s no way I could end this review without talking about Justin. YES, finally a boy who respects girls, who doesn’t push them for more when they aren’t ready and who’s willing to be friends for as long as necessary before it turns into anything more. I loved Justin for everything he did for Joy. He didn’t push her for a relationship. He respected her space, didn’t force anything, and probably most important, he didn’t run away when he learned of her harrowing childhood. He was the perfect guy to help Joy realize that, yes, there are still good guys her age out there who wouldn’t be pushing for more when they were just in a car together.
This book was amazing, absolutely beautiful, heartbreaking and awesome. I adored this book and I cannot wait to see what Perry writes next. 5 stars to this story about what it truly means to be a family, to love and to begin to heal.

Review: The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

Book Title: The Summer I Found You
Author: Jolene Perry
Publish Date: March 1st, 2014
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Link: Amazon
Synopsis from Goodreads: 
Jolene Perry’s THE SUMMER I FOUND YOU, about a teenage girl trying to cope with her new diagnosis of type one diabetes and a teenage male veteran who is learning how to embrace his new life after losing an arm, who come together by using each other as an escape, only to discover through love and struggle that your life is what you make of it.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

When I first started reading this, I was excited. This book seemed like it was right up my very eclectic alley. And it was, for the most part. Kate and Aidan are two seemingly broken people due to circumstances beyond their control. Kate’s Diabetes type 1 diagnosis and Aidan losing his arm in Afghanistan. I was really happy to see that they didn’t just fall into bed together. Their relationship started off as a friendship first which I think is really important. Especially for a lasting relationship.

So when they finally kiss, its an adorable moment that I wanted to savor for as long as possible.It was exactly how a first kiss should be and from that moment on I was completely rooting for them. That is an awesome feeling. Their chemistry sizzled off of my Kindle.I am normally not a huge romance fan, but this was exactly what I needed to get back into the romance genre. A sweet couple with demons to overcome.

There was really two things about this book that I didn’t like. Kate didn’t tell Aidan about her illness until it was almost too late. I’m not sure why exactly but maybe I have a different take on this since I have had my own health issues since birth, and I have never felt the need to hide them.I’m not surprised at all that Aidan was so mad at her for not telling him the truth.

The second issue is that Kate only started accepting the diagnosis after Aidan yelled at her. That really drove me crazy. It’s like she needed a guy who cared about her in order for her to accept her illness.I know some people will point to character growth but I can’t. I can’t help but wonder if Aidan wasn’t around, would Kate still have had this epiphany? I’m really not sure about the answer. 

Now Aidan had some wonderful character growth. I was so proud of him by the end of the book. I may or may not have cried at the end.He had gone through hell and had come out a better person by the end of the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book but there were some things that I didn’t love. I also didn’t get serious feels from this book. That’s why I am giving it only 4 stars. I will need to read some more of Jolene Perry’s work.

Stacking the Shelves #14

Hi, all of you awesome people. You may have noticed that I did not have a Stacking the Shelves post last Sunday. That reason was really because I had only received one book and I thought it was pointless to have a book haul post with only one book in it. This week,however NetGalley has been very kind to me. I received 5 books from NetGalley. Some of them are even early 2014 releases. Yipeee 🙂 Broken Beauty was the only book I got 2 weeks ago and yes I did already read & review it. It just felt weird not to put it in the post.
I also received an e-ARC of The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Marie Landry. I am SO excited for this one.

Don’t forget that this feature comes from Tynga’s Reviews. Don’t forget to stop by and link up your Stacking The Shelves posts/vlogs etc. As always don’t forget to let me know if you have read any of the books that I got and if you did read it, what did you think of it.


Received for Review
Broken Beauty (Broken Beauty Novellas #1) by Lizzy Ford (writing as Chloe Adams)
(e-book from Netgalley)

Forever Innocent by Deanna Roy (e-book from Netgalley)

Above by Isla Morley (e-galley from Netgalley)

Once Upon A Lie by Maggie Barbieri (e-galley from Netgalley)

The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry (e-galley from Netgalley)

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Marie Landry (received e-ARC from Author)

Skin and Bones by Sherry Shahan (e-galley from Net Galley)


See you all next week. Until then, happy reading.