Friday, July 20, 2012

Knee Deep by Jolene Perry Tribute Blog Tour Stop

Knee Deep

by Jolene Perry
Kindle, Nook, Smashwords,

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.

Take two teenagers who have been separated from each other for years but who have felt like they were in love with each other that whole time and put them together. They've written each other weekly and spent two weeks in the summer together at the beach. But they've only shared the best parts of themselves with each other. And as Ronnie finds out, there are sides to Shawn that aren't something she wants to know. He's moody and angry if she spends time with anyone but him. When she wears heels, which makes her taller than him, he's mad. She actually trades shoes with her best friend so she won't make him angry anymore. He's more than dark, he's controlling from the first page when he rolls in on his motorcycle and she's sneaking out of her house to go appease him about something. She can't stand to have weirdness between them and he knows this.

Ronnie is not this girl that is pathetic and under Shawn's thumb. That isn't how she presents in the book. She's a girl that's in love and you understand how she got from Point A to Point B. I think this novel really shows how easy it is for a girl with a healthy self esteem, a father who is a therapist and is watching her closely, a put together family, friends that really care about her, how this girl can still become a victim of dating abuse. It can happen to anyone. It doesn't just happen to a certain class of people or type of girl. And Ronnie doesn't even believe it's happening to her. She blames herself, not only for the abuse but for causing stress for anyone that's upset over it when they discover it. Shawn's supposed to be the one, she has to make it work.

Shawn is the product of living in an abusive home. He watches his father abuse his mother, he may even abuse Shawn But Shawn, like any abuser has a choice.You'll see in the end how Shawn makes his choices. He is a bully and a baby.Between the two, you know that nothing good can come from him and you're hoping throughout the story that Ronnie will cut and run.

Luke is the best friend who plays Romeo in the school play to Ronnie's Juliet. They've been friends forever and yet Shawn is jealous of him, despite them being best friends. Luke is the best guy friend a girl could ask for. He skips school and watches girl movies with her when  she's suspended for a day. He confronts her about the abuse. He rescues her from herself. 

And Mindy is the best girlfriend you could wish for. She stands by Ronnie even after she find out what Ronnie has been keeping from her. She's really a voice of reason when Ronnie is thoroughly confused about her feelings. She asks profound questions, provides support and most importantly, has Ronnie's back at the most difficult time in her life.

This novel was really well executed. The pacing was even and just right. There wasn't a head long rush into the abuse, just a slow escalation. You know it's coming, but you're waiting to see just what her breaking point is going to be and if she will actually turn away from Shawn the boy she thinks is her soulmate.

The last third to quarter of the book was a complete and welcome surprise to me. There really isn't a lot of surprise to be found in a book about dating abuse, but this one did have some surprises. And I think if you're at all judgmental about girls or guys that get into this type of situation, you'll see how easy it is to dismiss once or twice until you are in too deep and you find yourself believing it's all your fault. The writing was simple to read, no wordy descriptions or wasted emotions. Just very direct and easy to read.

The only thing I wish it had included was resources for teens that find themselves in this type of relationship. I've included an excerpt from the novel provided by Tribute books below for you to read. I really enjoyed this novel! It was completely believable and a great cautionary tale about abusive relationships. 

There is some mature content, attempted date rape, violence against women. I think older teens should read it. As always use your best judgement when considering you maturity level and the reading material.

Excerpt and author information below

Knee Deep Excerpt
My front door opens. “Hello?” Shawn calls. 

“In here!” I say back. Suddenly this feels weird. Why would this feel weird? This is just what happens when one of us is stuck at home. Why would today be any different? But my heart’s beating against the inside of my ribs, trying to tell me this is different. 

Luke scoots away from the couch. Does he feel it too? That maybe him and me hanging out alone for the day might not have been the best idea? 

Shawn steps through the hallway and scowls when his eyes meet mine and then pass to Luke. This shouldn’t be a big deal. Except...I’m so stupid. I was just thinking how I needed to make Shawn’s life outside of his house less stressful, and part of me 
knew it was weird that Luke was here without Shawn. I thought it, and did nothing. But again, it is just Luke. 

“What’re you doing here?” Shawn asks. His dark eyes fix on Luke. 

“I figured you’d be here, man.” Luke stands up. “It’s like we always ditch together, right?”  

Romeo and Juliet kissing in the pool on the TV screen probably isn’t helping anything. Maybe Shawn won’t notice, or maybe it’s just sending my heart into crazy flutters because this tension between Shawn and Luke and, I guess, me, is happening during the most romantic scene of the movie. 

“Uh, I don’t know.” Shawn’s still scowling, his brows pulled low and his jaw tight. 

“You would’ve hated it,” I say. My eyes catch his, but his are as black as his mood seems to be. I’m so stupid. Why did I have to let Luke stay? 

“Yeah, maybe.” Shawn’s narrowed eyes go from Luke to me, back and forth, as if judging the situation. Really? What did he think could possibly happen between Luke and I? Even if this is suddenly on my top three ‘most awkward moments’ ever. I can’t even think about what the other two might be. Maybe I’ve just found number one. 

“Romeo and Juliet all day.” Luke laughs, but I know him well enough to see he’s trying really hard to be relaxed. His shoulders are too stiff, and his normal stance is too rigid. I wonder if Shawn sees it too. “Guess I’ll leave you two alone.” Luke’s trying hard to keep his voice light. 

“Yeah.” Shawn has yet to return Luke’s smile. “I almost never see my girl anymore.”  

It’s like I’m on the edge of my seat, tension pinpricking every part of me. I’ve never seen Shawn like this. 

“Well, I should get my ass to rehearsal anyway.” Luke gives Shawn a friendly pat on the shoulder before heading outside.  

I don’t watch him go. My eyes are on Shawn, trying to figure out what to expect next. 

“What the hell was that?” His sharp gaze is now pointed directly at me. 

I stand up and lean to the side, trying to be relaxed. “It didn’t seem like a big deal this morning.” Maybe if I play it off as nothing Shawn won’t be so mad. He knows Luke and I are friends. No big deal, I tell myself again. But I don’t know if I’m trying to convince myself or Shawn. 

“Was he here when we were texting?” he asks. His voice may be low, but not in a good way. It’s low in a way that makes him sound like he’s past the edge of reasonable anger. 

My body’s screaming for me to take a step back, which makes no sense. This is Shawn. My Shawn. “No.” But I’m weakening by the second, almost shaking inside. His jaw tightens again. 

My eyes close as I remember, and dread fills my chest. “He got here as I sent my last one.” Is that bad? Good? 

“And you didn’t think to tell me? What the hell is that?” 

I jump at the sharpness of his voice. Shawn doesn’t need this stress. I know this. I reach forward to put my arms around him. We just need to hold one another for a minute, then it’ll all be fine. 

He stops me, grabbing my arm—hard—just above my wrist. 

“This is not okay.” His jaw is set. 

“Hey.” My voice shakes. My body shakes. I’m actually scared of Shawn for the first time ever. I jerk my hand once, but he tightens his grip...impossibly tight. My lungs can’t pull in a breath; there’s just not enough air in the room anymore. “Shawn, you’re hurting me.” He can’t mean to hurt me. He can’t. 

His face is stuck in a sharp scowl. 

“He’s your friend.” My voice is crying. I want to try and pull my shaky arm out of his grasp again, but I’m afraid to; he’s squeezing so hard. Tears are hot against the back of my eyes, threatening to spill over.  

“How would you feel if I spent all day with some chick?” The words come out as angry spit from between his teeth.  

I open my mouth to answer but can’t, the lump in my throat has taken over. All I can think about is that I need to find something to say so he’ll let me go. Some way to get the air through my throat to form words. “It’s just Luke,” I plead, sucking in a breath. 

“Whatever.” He throws my arm back at me, turns, and walks out the door, slamming it hard behind him. My body jumps at the sound. 

I stumble backward onto the couch. I’m like a leaf battered about in the wind. Nothing’s working right. I need to sit. Normally I’d run after him, but I have no idea what to expect. And I’m afraid. Of Shawn

He’s never been that way before. Ever. He’s moody and particular, but this seems...extreme. I’m cradling my wrist with my other hand, afraid to look at any possible damage. It hurts to move it. What just happened here? How did it happen? 

It’s like there suddenly must be something fundamentally wrong with the universe. But the TV’s still on. My house looks normal and quiet. I’m still breathing, but Shawn, my Shawn, just hurt me. Lying down seems so anti-climactic, but I can’t bring myself to do anything else. 

When Juliet realizes Romeo’s dying the sobs take over, and I pull my knees to my chest as if making myself smaller will somehow dull the pain.  

It doesn’t.

Jolene Perry's Bio:
Jolene grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in political science and French, which she used to teach math to middle schoolers.

After living in Washington, Utah and Las Vegas, she now resides in Alaska with her husband, and two children. Aside from writing, Jolene sews, plays the guitar, sings when forced, and spends as much time outside as possible.

She is also the author of Night Sky and The Next Door Boys.


Thanks to Tribute Book Tours and Jolene Perry for a complimentary copy of Knee Deep and including me on the Blog Tour. I received no compensation for my review of this novel.


  1. Heather - this is a great review. I hadn't heard much about this book, but I think I might just have to read it. I read But I Love Him by Amanda Grace shortly after returning home from vacation. This book sounds similar to it, but obviously developed differently. It will be interesting to compare the 2 books.


    1. I haven't read But I Love Him, but I know that one is like a look back, if I'm right. This one shows the escalation. You can tell from the excerpt how scared she is just to spend a day with her best friend and what will happen when they are alone after her best friend leaves.

  2. Wow...this is going to be intense, but I'm definitely adding this one to my TBR. I love reading books that make you feel all kinds of emotions (that's a sign of a really good writer) and this book sounds like it will do just that. Great review Heather :-)

    1. Thanks Amber! Yeah, this one pulls you in. This doesn't only happen to teens, so I think it's a good book for anyone that's single to read. And I don't think it only happens to girls.

  3. This does sound like a great book for teens to read. Even if they aren't in a relationship, at least they would have an idea of what to look out for when they do get into one. I think I may have to add this one to the wishlist.

    1. Maybe you and I should just swap books! I want to read all of yours and you want to read all of mine! But yes, it's a great book for teens maybe even all people in relationships who think it can never happen to them.
      It's so easy.

  4. I think that this type of book is a great read for anyone, especially teens that still think they are indestructible. Just having a book like this available, fictional or not, will open eyes to what is possible and what happens to a lot of people. While I have to be in the mood to read something like this (can't read book after book of abuse, it's too taxing on my emotions), I think everyone should read a book on abuse at least once. Great review!

    - Jessica @ Book Sake


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