Don’t Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: January 3, 2012
Source: Publisher for review
Series: Stand Alone
Purchase: Book Depository
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.
This is one of the darkest contemporaries I’ve read, but also one of the best. I had a hard time getting into the book for the first 70 or so pages, but once I delved deeper into the story, it grabbed me. I think I stayed up all night to finish it. Dark and gritty, this is one story that won’t be forgotten.
Would I loved most about this book was that it doesn’t give you the answers at the beginning. While you have an idea of why Joy needed to escape her smothering boyfriend, you have to read the entire book to truly understand what was going on. It’s presented in alternating chapters between past and present, with the past mostly highlighting her interactions with Asher. He seems perfect at first, but as you go back with Joy you realize who he really is. I didn’t like Joy’s family one bit, especially her older brother. Her parents were completely oblivious, but her brother had an idea of what was going on. But when Joy shows up with her friend unexpectedly, he turns her away. His own sister. I’m sorry, but honestly? I’m incredibly thankful I don’t have a family like that.
Joy is an unforgettable character. She endures everything Asher throws at her, and yet hits a point where she realizes enough is enough. And is then brave enough to leave and live on the streets. I don’t know that I could be as strong as she was and survive on the streets. She searches for Creed, the boy she remembers seeing on previous trips into Seattle, and finds him. With Creed and his group she learns how truly dark the world is, and yet still fights to be her own person.
This was the first book of Holly’s that I had read, and the writing was amazing. She covered a span of tough subjects brilliantly without sugarcoating them, but still managed to give Don’t Breathe a Word a somewhat believable ending that I was pleased with. This is definitely one of those books that will keep you thinking about the different problems that face our society after you’ve finished the book. And helps to raise awareness of those problems. Verbal abuse is just as hurtful as physical, and I’m glad Holly wasn’t afraid to write about this subject.