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Blog Tour - Review: Knee Deep by Jolene Perry

Title: Knee Deep
Story Arc: Standalone
Publication: May 1, 2012 by Tribute Books
Ebook: 176 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Content: Sexual Activity, Assault
Source: Blog Tour via Tribute Books | Quote(s): No

Guilt pricks at my chest as I lie in bed and listen for Shawn's motorcycle.

Shawn is the guy Ronnie Bird promised her life to at the age of fourteen. He's her soul mate. He's more uptight every day, but it's not his fault. His family life is stressful, and she's adding to it. She just needs to be more understanding, and he'll start to be the boy she fell in love with. She won’t give up on someone she’s loved for so long.

Luke is her best friend, and the guy she hangs with to watch girlie movies in her large blanketopias. He's the guy she can confide in before she even goes to her girlfriends, and the guy who she's playing opposite in Romeo and Juliet. Now her chest flutters every time he gets too close. This is new. Is Ronnie falling for him? Or is Juliet? The lines are getting blurry, but leaving one guy for another is not something that a girl like Ronnie does.

Shawn’s outbursts are starting to give her bruises, and Luke’s heart breaks as Ronnie remains torn. While her thoughts and feelings swirl around the lines between friendship and forever, she’s about to lose them both.
A surprisingly quick read
I don’t know if it’s because I was so into Knee Deep by Jolene Perry that I didn’t realize I was breezing through it until I reached the end maybe after a two-hour sitting, or it’s simply because it’s not the chunkiest book you will ever come across. Maybe it’s a little mix of both. All I know is, as much as I enjoyed Perry’s Night Sky, I was a bit wary of reading Knee Deep by Jolene Perry. It’s not strictly an issues book, but, man, do the characters have a TON of those. And issue books have the potential to strike gold with me, or they can fail. Epically. It all depends on the writer, the execution, blah blah blah. I don’t want to feel as if I’m being preached to about anything or that I’ve been given the equivalent of an informative pamphlet. What I’ve noticed about Perry’s novels so far, however, is they are smart spins on every day issues. They’re not just intelligently written, but written in a way that’s accessible and weirdly relatable. These issues become personal even if you might never have experienced anything like what the characters are going through.

Knee Deep by Jolene Perry is essentially about a young girl in a very intense and very committed relationship, despite her youth, who comes to realize the person she’s loved for most of her life has ceased to be the real person and has drifted into an idea, a faraway memory. Her relationship has caused her to lose self-confidence and independence, and her loyalty to her boyfriend, Shawn, puts her in a place to be abused, verbally and physically. Stepping back, her altercations may seem minor compared to the crazy situations battered women on television find themselves in, but his actions and his words are both inexcusable and horrible. They’re not MINOR, and Knee Deep by Jolene Perry chronicles Ronnie’s struggle with the truth, with keeping secrets from those she loves, intervention, and her eventual decision to set things right.

One of the most powerful aspects of this book is not only how it shows the quickness in the harmless turning into the harmful, but also about how withholding and secreting something as harsh and dangerous as abuse can not only effect the victim but all those he or she cares about.

I love Jolene’s fictional families
Even when they screw up or tick me off, the families Jolene creates for her characters are ultimately supportive of their children. They may have their own issues and negatives as parents, but they always care for their children and support them in the worst of circumstances. And that’s what I find missing in a lot of Young Adult fiction, that invaluable support system that doesn’t always have to be present throughout the book but should have a presence—a firm, caring one—in the characters’ lives.

Works the same for the main characters’ friendships. Some fictional best friends don’t have to be glued to their hips to be felt in the novel, and I LOVE that. Because I’ve never met a pair of best friends so in each other’s faces day in and day out. They rely on each other, are deeply involved in the other’s life, and they are very much in tune, but they don’t have to be at each other’s house every single day to have a bond. I feel as if a lot of YA literature pushes that onto us, that in order to validate a friendship between two teenagers they have to be with each other every second, and when they’re not, it’s wrong and equals distance. Friendships in Jolene’s books are tightly knit and yet they are not actively present in every scene. I enjoyed the moments when Ronnie seeks comfort with her friend, Mindy, confides in her, but I also enjoyed the fact they have that unspoken knowledge and understanding that they can turn to each other for anything no matter what—despite any gap of time between them.

Ronnie and Luke
Ronnie is very much taken by the start of Knee Deep by Jolene Perry, which is no news there if you read the synopsis. However, I hadn’t been aware that there was a third friend involved, that Ronnie, Shawn, and Luke are a group deal. Now, their situation might seem a bit clich├ęd—the main character realizing she’s with the wrong best friend—but this setup is far from sweet, simple, and overdone. On the surface, the situation is similar to something you might’ve already seen, but beneath that surface there’s a whole lot of STUFF working there.

Luke and Ronnie have been friends a long time, almost as long as Ronnie has loved Shawn. When Shawn would go away during the year and return for the summer, in between that time without him, Ronnie had Luke. She was never interested in him romantically because she’s always thought of herself as Shawn’s. The sweetness of first love made Shawn’s haunting, terrible change into something poignant and sympathetic. Despite how bad Shawn gets, I couldn’t squash this tiny bit of feeling toward him. Because he was once the boy who gave soft kisses along the beach and made picnics that included lots of marshmallows for the girl he loved before he had to leave. I could understand Ronnie’s loyalty to him even if I didn’t agree with it. Luke, though, OWNED my heart from the beginning. He’s legit best boyfriend material, ya'll.

I wouldn’t say that because he’s perfect. He’s not. He’s a treasure as a friend, always willing to listen and protect, hanging out with the fam and treating the girl he’s secretly been interested in all along like gold without doing ridiculous things to show it. It’s all subtle and sneaky with him, because there’s that punch of lust when you first ‘meet’ him but then he gets all likeable with his vintage t-shirts—he’s not above wearing ones featuring Sponge Bob, Scooby Doo, and the Powerpuff Girls—and passionate acting and chocolate popcorn addiction. His moments with Ronnie are packed with latent sexual tension and sweetness and every confusing bit in between.

Jolene has another hit on her hands
Hopefully my feelings on Jolene Perry’s books become a pattern, because I like having them. I’m all warm and smiley once I’ve closed them, and the issues they tackle are serious enough so that I don’t feel as if I’ve just been reading fluffy romance. Some serious shizz goes down, you guys. But at the end of it all, all the kissing and hugging and almost sexy times gave my heart this hot little lift, this happy boost.

I recommend Knee Deep by Jolene Perry for fans of Sarah Dessen and Melissa Walker, two authors who I think write really awesome issue books with a hot dosage of romance.

Rating: Sud-Kissed

Although I was really nervous about reading another Jolene Perry novel, it turns out there was no need to worry over whether or not I’d enjoy it. For such a short read, there is so much going on, so much to feel. In a relatively small amount of time, I felt attached to Ronnie and kept hoping for happier circumstances. I was super invested in the romance and could not wait until the outcome shifted into what I’d been hoping for. Knee Deep by Jolene Perry has the author’s telltale charming, expressive writing style and fabulously portrays the struggles of a young woman in an unexpected, horrible situation, and her work to overcomes the scars left behind.


Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Don't be shy!


VitreousTabard64 said...


Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

YAY! I'm so glad you liked this book too! It's not a subject I would usually choose to read about but I love how emotionally invested in it I was. Luke definitely owned my heart from the beginning too. Amazing review, Asher! :)

Nicole Langan said...

Asher, thanks for the review!