September 27, 2014

Stronger Than You Know - Jolene Perry

Stronger Than You Know book cover
Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: September 1, 2014
Source/Format: BEA 2014 || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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? (from Goodreads)

[Full disclosure: I nearly passed up on the opportunity to read Stronger Than You Know. Thankfully, the lovely Rachel convinced me to give it a shot - and it was totally worth it.]

Stronger Than You Know is the story of a girl name Joy, who is currently trying to deal with the aftermath of the terrible circumstances she was used to and adjust to her brand-new "normal" life. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Perry, however, takes this premises and adds extra detail to take Joy's story to a different level entirely. With an exquisitely moving combination of painful heartbreak and peaceful hope, Stronger Than You Know is seriously impressive.

Joy begins this novel broken and beaten down by all the abuse she experienced while she was still living with her mother. Her grief holds her down, and it broke my heart completely to have to witness her so afraid and frustrated and desperate and hopeless. Perry doesn't hold back, so readers will bear witness to how hard it is for Joy. Joy has a long road to recovery ahead of her, and in spite of the difficulties, there's a lot of hope, encouragement, support and love to be encountered along the way.

Help comes in the form of many people in Joy's life - her therapist, her classmate Justin, a new friend named Daisy, her relatives Aunt Nicole, Uncle Rob and cousins Tara and Trent. Even though it's not easy (for her or for them), most people (Trent being the only exception) were patient with Joy and willing to accept and shelter this broken, battered, difficult girl. In fact, I'm especially fond of the relationship she develops with her Uncle Rob, as it just made my heart feel so full. But all these people become a safe haven for her, offering understanding and a place to heal.

Really, Stronger Than You Know was such a pleasant surprise! It's painful in how realistically Joy's struggle is portrayed, especially considering how much abuse she endured. Even though her journey involves setbacks and hard things, there's also such inspiration to be drawn from how Joy fights to find some peace and live up to her name. It was incredibly moving (to the point where I teared up towards the end). I'm so glad I got to read this, and will definitely be recommending you do the same.


  1. So glad you liked this one, Alexa! I want to read it, too, but will probably wait for the sequel so I don't have to wait. :P I love a strong group dynamic, and that seems to be the highlight of the book.
    A were-tiger, huh? The first answer that came in my head was a werewolf, so. Great minds think alike. :P
    Great review, girl!

  2. That cover. That title. YOUR REVIEW. My heart is singing for all of these things!


Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)