Review: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Title: Don't Breathe a Word
Author: Holly Cupala
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: ARC Tour
Joy Delamere is suffocating...

From asthma, which 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.
Don't Breathe a Word is a beautifully written book that deals with some tough issues. It covers abusive, controlling relationships, resentment, homelessness, drugs, prostitution.

Joy is a character who is afraid and desperate to get away from the controlling people in her life. She needs an escape. So she runs away to live on the streets and find a boy named Creed who had once offered to help her. She tries to be smart about it and quickly realizes that maybe she's in over her head. She seems almost helpless at times, and her vulnerability is a big part of what she has to grow out of. Asher is so slimy and vile. I can understand how Joy could become desperate to escape him. Creed and his friends have their issues, but are really just pretty amazing kids in need of some help.

The plot moves along pretty quickly as Joy learns the ways of the street and comes to witness some of the depressing horror of it that she didn't think through fully before she ran off to become a part of that world. It does contain some gritty stuff, mostly through dialogue and suggestion rather than being up front and graphic. Joy is protected by Creed from the worst of it. Some might think the story loses a bit of its edge because the main character doesn't get low enough to destroy herself, but I like that she and Creed try to keep themselves separate from some of that stuff the best that they can. And it gives Joy a chance to show the others that maybe they can find other ways to survive.

Don't Breathe a Word is a powerful read that touches on topics that are sometimes ignored or purposefully overlooked. I'd recommend it to fans of contemporary realistic fiction and issue books, particularly those dealing with emotional abuse or life on the streets.


  1. I just recently finished reading and reviewing this one myself, and I enjoyed it a lot as well. I thought the whole story was beautiful and didactic, though not in a preachy way. Glad to hear you enjoyed it too, Jenny!

  2. It sounds like this one packed a punch for you. So glad! I'm really intrigued by the sound of this one.

  3. This book intrigues me greatly and I can't wait to read it, especially now that I've read your review! It sounds like a book that can touch you deeply and leave you thinking!

    Great Review!
    Nomalicious Reads

  4. Great review! I've been wanting to read this after reading a couple of reviews, especially now!

  5. Love the review! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I'm glad that Joy doesn't get low enough to destroy herself- that's bordering on the scary edge of being realistic. Look forward to reading it!:)


  6. I was *so* close to loving this book... Seriously. SO close. I was completely and totally enamored and enthralled throughout the entire book, and I thought it was completely and totally brilliant.

    But I was really disappointed by the ending. It felt too pat & tidy for me. The ENTIRE book was SO realistic and heartbreaking and raw and just so... INTENSE. And I felt the ending took that away and left it in a tidy and 'neat' HEA. :(

    1. I definitely get what you mean about the ending. I didn't love it either. It was okay, to me, but it was sorta happily ever after.

  7. I'm not always a big fan of issues books, I have to be in the perfect mood for them.

    This one does intrigue me though, and I've seen so many reviews from people that love it - I may have to add it to the list for the next time the mood strikes me :)

  8. This book sounds great and you got me intrigued. I'll have to check it out and make some time to read it :)
    Happy midnight reading!


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