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Review: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

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Through the Looking Glass: Review: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Don't Breathe a Word
Don't Breathe a Word by: Holly Cupala
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 299
Format: Paperback Original
Genre: Contemporary
Challenges: DAC 2012, YA Contemporary Challenge 2012, 2012 Standalone Challenge
Buy the Book: Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

Joy Delamere is suffocating...

From asthma, which has 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.

Set against the gritty backdrop of Seattle’s streets and a cast of characters with secrets of their own, Holly Cupala’s powerful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the meaning of love, and how far a girl will go to discover her own strength.
My Review:

In many ways, there are no words to express how this book changed the way I look at things. Or how it affected me emotionally and created a connection with the characters that I haven't experienced in a long time.

By a long run, this is the most intense contemporary novel I've ever read. It had a harsh reality to it. There was no sugar-coating the world that Joy finds herself in. People had to acclimate to the very scum of life in order to survive on the grimy streets of Seattle's homeless population. If you are looking for a no-nonsense book that is realistic and doesn't glamorize anything, this is the book for you. I loved this aspect. It always annoys me when books make a terrible situation seem delightfully tolerable by sugar-coating it.

Joy is a complex character, to say the least. She is weak with asthma that threatens to suffocate her all the time. On the inside, she is an amazingly strong girl who will go to incredible lengths to survive and free herself from the abusive shadow of Asher and obsessively protective parents. She discovers a new life and a new family with Creed, Santos, and even May.

Creed is the reason Joy sets out on her own, hanging on to a few words that he had said to her in the shadow of an alley, but meant so much more. He is the modern version of the knight in shining armor that girls dream about. He never questioned Joy about her past and knew that everyone around them had a past to make them resort to homelessness. With his guitar and poetic voice, I fell for Creed from the beginning.

More than anything, this book made me change the way I look at homeless people. I always used to think that most of them wasted all their money on drugs or gambling and reduced themselves to barely nothing. Now, I know that each one of them has a past and a reason for being where they are. Especially the youth.

 In Joy's case, her past would seem to anyone else like a perfect teenage girls suburban life; a great boyfriend, loving parents, a little brother, friends. Yet, she was suffocating under the incessant watch of her parents. They protected her like someone would "an injured baby bird". They were physically keeping her safe, but killing her soul in the process. And Asher. He had such a terrible hold on Joy, my eyes were brimming with tears in parts.

Set on the streets of Seattle, Don't Breathe a Word will bring you to startling realization and pull you in and not let you go until after the last page.

Official Rating:
Five Un-Birthday Cakes!

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