Emily May's Reviews > Don't Breathe a Word

Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala
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's review
Jan 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, 2012, contemporary
Read from February 20 to 21, 2012


I did that stupid thing where I don't check what a book's about before I start reading it with Don't Breathe a Word. The synopsis on the back of the paperback I have is quite ambiguous but it looked like a relatively short, interesting read. I began to be concerned when I realised it was another tale about abuse, I would never have started it so soon after a powerful novel like Split had I known.

However, Don't Breathe a Word is actually a completely different type of novel. Split is very realistic, brutal, in-your-face and painfully honest. It is also the significantly better book of the two. This novel, on the other hand, felt somewhat dreamlike. Joy's narrative alternates between the past and the present, the reasons for her decision to run away are introduced gradually in random flashes of memory. The writing is prettier than that in Split and I liked reading it, but it wasn't as powerful or meaningful for me either.

I'm starting to lean too much towards the negative here and I don't mean to, I rounded it up to four stars for a reason. Because this book isn't just about abuse, it's about the troubles faced by the 1.6 million runaways in the United States every year. How the majority of them will be assaulted in one way or another in their first month of living on the streets, and how many end up selling sex to buy food and clothes. Several colourful and intriguing characters are present in this novel, each with a different story and a vibrant personality. May, a girl who through struggles and heartache discovers she has talents beyond what she can offer with her naked body. Santos, the boy with the secrets and a pet ferret, who sneaks away in the evening and comes back with haunted eyes. And Creed, the musician who speaks to Joy's soul with his guitar.

And my comments about the writing were not supposed to be negative, take a look:

"At home, they'd clipped my wings and then caged me so I couldn't fall. Here, they bandaged one another's broken wings, helped each other fly."

I think the factor that most let down this story and made it 3.5 stars was the ending. Split does not have a perfect ending and some opportunities are missed, but Swati Avasthi recognises that in real life things don't always go the way you want and not everyone gets a happily ever after - and that's kinda the beauty of the novel. Don't Breathe a Word feels like a rushed super-happy conclusion, everyone's problems get solved within a few pages and the only unhappy one was the bad guy. I don't want to be left heartbroken, but the too-perfectness of it took something away.

Also, I think I should stop reading afterwords. I get choked up at nearly every single one, even when I've spent an entire emotional novel not shedding a tear.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kwoomac (last edited Feb 21, 2012 06:25PM) (new)

Kwoomac not to be confused with thisDon't Breathe a Word

message 2: by Amelie Xx (new)

Amelie Xx hey Emily love your comment

Emily May Thanks!

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