Danielle's Reviews > Don't Breathe a Word

Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala
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Dec 28, 11

it was amazing
bookshelves: for-review, youngadult, 2011-favorites, favorite-authors
Read from June 17 to 19, 2011

When the world you love leaves you broken and battered sometimes your only hope is to flee, even if that means risking your life. For Joy Delamere this is a harsh reality. Left under the care of someone both herself and her parents thought they could trust she’s left only a sliver of the person she remembers. His abuse drives her over the edge and into a world where she may never come back. With raging asthma and very few resources, including medical, Joy becomes Triste on the streets of Seattle in hopes that she will escape the fears that follow her every footstep and nearly leave her without air.

Again, I’m left breathless. My first experience reading Holly Cupala’s writing was with her debut novel Tell Me A Secret and in that case I was completely blown away. Holly Cupala has a proven talent for knowing how teens think and feel. Much the same way that authors like Courtney Summers and Beth Kephart get inside the minds and bodies of their characters, Holly reaches in to share their deepest fears and vulnerabilities making them characters you quickly hope for. This time it’s Joy/Triste and her broken heart, body and mind. And again, in many ways my own heart is broken on her behalf.

In some ways there are parallels between Holly’s two novels, the biggest being the characterization of the two girls each story is centered around. In both Don’t Breathe A Word and Tell Me A Secret you have two girls who both have a need for acceptance or validation of some sort. In Tell Me A Secret it comes from a place of betrayal by her best friend, boyfriend and ultimately her sister; with Don’t Breathe A Word it’s from her boyfriend Asher. Both girls, Rand and Joy, have parents that are flawed and in a lot of ways have left them both to fend for themselves. What results are girls who are insecure and in need of love. I’m obviously over-simplifying things here, because there are a number of variables that contribute to both girls situations but at the heart is the fact that they both need to be loved.

As for the plot and story of Don’t Breathe A Word, let me simply state that it’s brilliant. It’s subtle messages and the pain you feel through it’s pages are something you don’t find often in young adult literature. For me, someone who has lived through much of the same types of abuse Joy suffers through, it was heart breaking but overwhelmingly comforting. What I would have given to have had the opportunity to read something like Joy’s story during that time in my life. Her abuse at the hands of Asher is unfortunately something I know happens all too often for a number of reasons, but I’m grateful for stories like Don’t Breathe A Word that bring attention to and potentially help those who suffer in these situations. The comfort Joy/Triste finds through her new friends on the streets, including Creed, was something I could completely relate to. Yet again proving Cupala’s ability to understand and know teens as they are.

Holly Cupala has again proven that she knows not only her audience, but knows how to reach them. Don’t Breathe A Word is Holly’s second novel and yet again she leaves her readers breathless and gasping for more. Joy/Triste is a character that reaches out from the pages begging for help and sheds light on not only abusive relationships but the harsh reality of homeless teens. Don’t Breathe A Word by Holly Cupala is easily one of my favorite books ever and I’d quickly recommend it to readers who love a story filled with brilliant writing, real characters and a story the grips you from page one until the very last.

Originally reviewed and copyrighted at my site, There's A Book.
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Quotes Danielle Liked

Holly Cupala
“When the worst happens and you still survive, it sets you free from fear.”
Holly Cupala, Don't Breathe a Word

Holly Cupala
“ASHES.
He had reduced me to ashes.
And now I would rise.”
Holly Cupala, Don't Breathe a Word


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