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?
I’m a previous fan of Jolene Perry’s The Summer I Found You, as many of you know, and after loving it so much, Perry’s ultimately won herself invincibility and I’ll pretty much read anything with her name on it just because some boys with missing limbs are too perfect to resist.
Jolene always seems to know how to tackle the tough stuff, and unlike The Summer I Found You, which I found to be very serious on multiple levels, Stronger than You Know raises the bar a notch higher, and in the best way possible.
This story is so graciously told by a tragically beautiful character that speaks for so many out there just like herself. Joy’s character was so brave and fragile at the same time. I respected her and her instincts so much. Her will to fight was unbelievable and so completely inspiring. While I’d dare to say The Summer I Found You is centered more around two people who manage to fix each other, Stronger Than You Know focuses more on family and I really liked the angle that this set up for the story line and development. Justin was just as swoon worthy as Aidan was, though Aidan does hold a very special place in my heart that Justin just can’t tap because he’s specially stored in another tight spot. Justin’s understanding nature and the ability to be the perfect yin to Joy’s yang made me so happy, as a reader. Their connection was great, and though a little bit more time with him would have been nice, I think the family aura this novel had going for it was more fitting. My heart, above all, goes out to Uncle Rob and all the other Uncle Rob’s in the world who have so much kindness in their hearts and will stop at nothing to save people in Joy’s situation. He was outright incredible and the most unforgettable character by far. A thousand thanks to Perry for making such an amazing person and overall family man.
While Joy’s situation is not only tough, but more common than most of us would like to think, Jolene did a fantastic job of portraying many different aspects of the abuse realistically. I feel like so many times, these things are overplayed or underplayed, but everything in this novel was just right, and as difficult as it was to read about sometimes, it’s something that needed to be heard, something we all need to start listening to.
For fans of Speak and Just Listen, Stronger Than You Know delivers a tragically beautiful tale about a life and what it takes to go on just when you think you can’t push any further.