Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Don't Breathe a WordTitle: Don't Breathe A Word
Author: Holly  Cupala
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 304
Published: October 18, 2011 by HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780061766695
Source: Teen Book Scene

Description: 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 delectably 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.

I Give This ...

I was really looking forward to Holly Cupala's sophomore effort.   I loved Tell Me A Secret.  I was hoping that she had a knack for tacking tough subjects and turning them into something real.  For the most part, I wasn't disappointed with this book.

I liked the story set up.  We know something horrible has happened to Joy and we know that involved Asher.  We're just not sure exactly what it was.   I enjoyed the drastic opening we get.  Joy is running away and she's making it her mission to make it look like a kidnapping.  At first I couldn't figure out what this distinction was important.  We gradually get the idea of why Joy goes to such extremes.  I liked this slow build up.  We get small flashbacks of what Joy's relationship with Asher was like.  I have to admit (and maybe it's because we know from the start), I didn't like him from the start.

I also enjoyed Joy's journey with the homeless teens on the streets.  It gives the book a distinct difference form others I've read.  I can imagine what life must have been like for someone of Joy's background.  Can you imagine scrounging for food, never bathing, and sleeping basically in the open?  I can't and this story made me appreciate what I have.  It also made me fully realize how bad things were that Joy never gave up.  She knew she could go home at any time, but was determined to fade away.

I also liked the new friendships she forms.  They don't know her background or were she's from.  For the most part the accept her for what she is.  Although, I think sometimes they feel she's just a runaway teen with no idea of the true hardships she might face.  They have no idea what's she running from.  She does learn that just like in regular life, life on the streets is filled with people who are just trying to get ahead.  Your best friend might stab you in back and you may fall in love.  The battle can just be a lot more dangerous.

My only issues with the story was the idea of becoming homeless to begin with.  Joy was scared of Asher, but not just for her own safety.  I get why she did, just not the extremes she went to.  Becoming a homeless teen seems so farfetched for the circumstance.  And I felt like the trouble with being homeless are glossed over a little bit.  Joy had it hafd but nearly as hard as she could have.  I think it would have been a lot worse had she not found Creed.  I wonder how quickly she might have given up them.  Her asthma was also an interesting addition to the story.  For someone who lived in a spotless house to ward off attacks, had countless emergency inhalers, and almost dies because of it manage to live the way she did and not get sick until the end. 

Those drawbacks really didn't effect my thoughts on the story overall.  I enjoyed it and look forward to Holly's next book!


  1. Hi. New follower here. I found you via Goodreads. Love the blog layout!

    Nicki J Markus

  2. I LOVED this book. Like, a LOT. The whole story was, IMO powerful & driven and emotional and just... perfect.


    That ending just ruined it for me. I still really like the book, but I never feel like I can actually SAY I liked it w/o that qualifier, because I feel like Holly created this honest & raw & dark story and then got too afraid of where the characters would have to go, & then gave them gumdrops & rainbows for their HEA. :(

    I felt that way about TMAS too, although not to that extreme (everything I felt about TMAS, I felt about DBAW, except MORE)

    She's an incredibly talented writer, but those endings just... Ugh, :( They kill me!


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