Katie's Reviews > Don't Breathe a Word

Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala
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's review
Dec 26, 2011

bookshelves: arcs, for-review, finished-copy-wishlist
Read in December, 2011

Don't Breathe a Word is probably the most powerful story I've read. Seriously. This book suckerpunched me right in the heart and I'm still reeling from the blow. Holly Cupala's writing is gorgeous and lyrical and absolutely perfect for the harsh situations that Joy deals with.

I feel like there's a lot of places in this book where it would be easy for some critical readers to question Joy/Triste's decisions if not for Holly's brilliant character development. I was yanked so far into Joy's mind and heart and conscience that all of the brutal and twisted things started to seem normal and all of her motives were crystal clear.

The pace of this book is sort of perfect. This isn't a story that needs action or pulse-pounding scenes. It's all about Joy/Triste gaining her bearings on the streets, learning to fit in among a new kind of people. And I love that we only get brief glances of the past, of the stuff that happened to lead Joy/Triste to leave her home, every few chapters. Her unraveling mixed in with the present works well together.

And the characters! My favorite part of the book! They're crude and obscene, but they're a family and their togetherness leaps off the pages.They've each got their own story and attitude, and even though I wanted to reach through the pages and punch them in the face a time or two (*coughMAYcough*) I still closed the book caring about all of them. I was also immensely happy with how their stories ended, how this book ended in general. It seems a bit unrealistic, but if you come to love the characters as much as I did, especially Joy and Creed, you wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Overall, Don't Breathe a Word is unlike any other book on YA shelves today. It's intense, emotionally powerful, harsh and raw and brutal and beautiful all at the same time and I'm suddenly finding it difficult to find words to justify how incredible I thought it was. Anytime I ramble, take it as a good sign. I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone!
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