Abuse, in all forms, is something that plagues society. In "Stronger Than You Know," author Jolene Perry, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sheds light on what victims of abuse may experience even after the abuse has ended. One of Perry's main focuses in her book is on the hope and healing for abuse victims.
Fifteen-year-old Joy is trying to adjust to her new, safe life with her aunt, uncle and cousins after enduring years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and confinement while living with her mother. Finding "normal" is proving difficult given Joy's long list of fears and struggles. She wonders if she will ever fit in with her new life.
Working with a psychologist, Joy is encouraged to overcome her fears and her list of reasons why she thinks she's "crazy." The hard part is that certain situations and smells can trigger flashbacks from her horrible past and send Joy into a tailspin and panic attacks.
Taking things step by step, Joy is able to make headway in her healing process and start to enjoy life. But just as she is learning to trust her new family and some of her peers, Joy is called to testify in court for her mother's trial. Facing her mother again and reliving parts of her past will be difficult, but this time, she has the love and support of a family to back her up.
Perry handles the serious situation of abuse accurately and deftly while showing, through the Joy's strength, that hope and healing for victims is not only an option but also completely possible.
"Stronger Than You Know" is more appropriate for mature teens but may also aid victims of abuse in healing or help others understand the possible effects of abuse.
The book does contain mature themes pertaining to sexual abuse and rape, physical and other abuses, including a few flashbacks that, while descriptive, are not overly detailed. It also has a couple of instances of mild swearing.
"Stronger Than You Know" is a finalist for the 2014 Association of Mormon Letters Awards in the young adult general novel category.