Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Be sure to visit the virtual book birthday party for Don't Breathe a Word!! You can read the first two chapters, listen to the playlist, watch Holly take you around Seattle, check out a sneak peek of the graphic novel, enter to win party swag, and so much more!

By: Holly Cupala
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Source: ARC from Me, My Shelf and I Book Tours

Joy Delamere is suffocating…

From asthma, which has nearly claimed her life. From her parents, who will do anything to keep that from happening. From dangerous Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out.

Joy can take his words – tender words, cruel words – until the night they go too far.

Now, Joy will leave everything behind to find the one who has offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. She will become someone else. She will learn to survive. She will breathe… if only she can get to Creed before it’s too late.

Set against the gritty backdrop of Seattle’s streets and a cast of characters with secrets of their own, Holly Cupala’s powerful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the meaning of love, and how far a girl will go to discover her own strength.

Don’t Breathe a Word is a beautiful and powerful story that tackles several issues that aren’t often dealt with in YA literature. Ideas of abuse, homelessness, love, and family are all woven into the novel and make it a painful and riveting read.

This book almost definitely will make you look differently at the next homeless person you see, but for me the most powerful message in Don’t Breathe a Word was about abuse and the effects it can have on someone. Even though Joy is living on the streets, she never really felt “homeless” to me. She’s still in the same city as her family and she could go home any time she wants to. The story is more about her past and her journey to discover who she is. The topic of abuse is threaded throughout the novel very delicately and it’s handled extremely well. Joy’s past is unfolded slowly, with flashbacks of her time with Asher interspersed with her present life on the streets, and it is wonderful to see her reflections on their toxic relationship changing as she begins to grow and evolve.

The friends Joy meets on the streets of Seattle are also a fantastic addition to the story. Each of them has their pasts, their own reasons for living the way they do, as well as their own struggles and challenges. Joy can’t help but be caught up in their lives, and you’ll be pulled right along with her.

There were two main things that kept me from giving Don’t Breathe a Word a full five star rating. The first one is the connection between Joy and Creed. On the one hand, I absolutely loved their relationship and the bond they shared, and I really did feel like they had great chemistry and some really wonderful scenes together. The thing was that it was so instantaneous and it felt like they had already been friends for several months. I feel like we missed the beginning; I never understood why they had this connection. Joy basically runs away from home to try to find Creed because he saw her on a sidewalk once and told her he could help her. This seemed totally random to me and kind of threw me off for the rest of the book. I would have liked a little more meat to the beginning of their story together.

The second thing is the ending. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that it felt very unrealistic and left me unsatisfied. After such an intense and gritty story, I wasn’t prepared for or expecting it to end the way it did. A lot of people will probably be happy with the ending, but again, I wanted more. This book could have had an even greater emotional punch if it had ended differently.

Despite these flaws, Don’t Breathe a Word is an amazing novel. It’s intense and heartbreaking, thought-provoking and utterly addictive. Definitely not one to miss.


  1. I've read a ton of great things about this book and I've seen a lot of people get really excited while waiting for its release.

  2. Hmm, I've been wanting to read this one for awhile. but now I'm a tad nervous about the romance...

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)


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