Jen Bigheart (I Read Banned Books)'s Reviews > Don't Breathe a Word

Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala
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Jan 26, 12

bookshelves: arc
Read in January, 2012

4.5 Stars

We meet Joy as she is staging her own kidnapping. She dyes and cuts her hair and sets the room up just perfectly so no one will know she left her life voluntarily. Joy doesn't want to be followed, to be found. We don't exactly know what Joy is running away from, but then we are introduced to her controlling boyfriend, Asher, through snippets and flashbacks. Joy feels the only way to leave Asher is to leave her entire life. After all, he controls it all. She hits the Seattle streets in attempt to find the one person that offered his help. The one person who saw right through her suffocating life.

The first few chapters of this book will leave you breathless as we jump from just a few days before she runs away to events to the present. Joy vaguely describes how her boyfriend Asher punished her after a quick trip to go visit her brother. Yes, punished... Those beginning scenes hooked me to the story and not only did I want to see what Joy was running away from, I wanted to know how she was punished. Throughout the book as she lives on the dirty, grimy streets of Seattle, we learn how Asher's control turns to abuse and how that changes everything. Changes a normal high school girl named Joy into an eating out of trash bins girl named Triste.

Props to Cupala for painting an honest light on a kind of abuse that doesn't always result in black eyes. All too often people discredit the power of words - especially teens. This novel is a perfect example of how a string of normal words weaved together can ruin another's spirit. Asher breaks Joy's spirit and she sees no other way to claim her life back than to leave. Joy is a brave girl that, at times, gets in some hot water. Luckily, she finds the boy that gave her the strength she needed to walk away from her life. Creed is a boy that anyone would want to bring home to meet mom and dad. Honest, true, caring, selfless, and even cares for other homeless teens. The mystery surrounding the events that led Creed, and others, to the streets is also very fascinating. Did Creed do through something terrible like Joy? The relationship between Joy and Creed evolve several times throughout the story and although I thought it ended just a tad too perfect, this story is for keeps.

Gripping, gritty, and not to be missed. Don't Breathe a Word is a story about a young girl who does what it takes to save herself and then find her true self all over again.
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