Book Review: Knee Deep by Jolene Perry

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.

Release Date: May 1, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Tribute Books
Source: Review copy from publisher

This is my second time reading Jolene Perry, and it definitely won't be my last.  I really enjoy her contemporary YA.  I love her writing style and the emotion her books impart.  I also like how she handles important issues (in this case, domestic violence) without being preachy about it.

I am not usually a fan of love triangles, but the relationship between Luke, Ronnie and Shawn really worked.  They have all been best friends for years.  Shawn and Ronnie are together, and Ronnie considers Luke her best friend.  They all live close together, as well.  Sometimes Ronnie's secret nighttime visits to Shawn's house are preceded by a stop at Luke's house just to chat.  I could tell right away that Luke and Ronnie had a good, positive relationship.  I liked Luke a lot, and knew that there was a lot more depth to him than met the eye.

Shawn, on the other hand, was a different story.  I knew he was trouble from the start.  As soon as he said something about Ronnie not wearing heels around him (since they are the same height) I knew there was going to be trouble with him.  I'm not knocking short guys, not at all, but dictating which shoes your girlfriend can wear around you is just not cool.  And Ronnie just stood for it.  She changes everything for Shawn (another bad sign).

But Luke, she can just be herself with.  It's easy and uplifting to be around him.  When Ronnie is cast as Juliet in the school play, playing alongside Luke as Romeo, things start to heat up.  Shawn can't handle the competition, platonic though it may be, and he and Ronnie start fighting.  Except these aren't your normal arguments.  Shawn starts getting physical, and Ronnie is torn.  She doesn't want to give up on someone she promised to love forever, but in her heart she knows that true love doesn't look like this. In the end, she has to make a decision, and that decision changes several lives irrevocably.

I loved, loved, loved how Perry handled the conclusion to the love story.  (I won't say who it's between).  It was a true The Notebook-style ending, and I loved it.  I was really happy how she resolved the violence issue, and described the consequences to everyone involved.  It did not feel contrived, it felt natural and right.

I think that Knee Deep would be a great book for parents and teens to read and discuss together.  It's a good portrait of violence in a teen relationship, and its' effects on the family.  Fans of contemporary YA will love this one.  As for me, I see on Goodreads that Perry has written quite a few books, and I will definitely be seeking out more of her work.   



  1. I'm also becoming a fan of Jolene Perry, so glad you enjoyed this book!

  2. Kelli, thanks for the review!

  3. I really liked the ending too. Thanks for review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog


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