Wednesday, October 17, 2012

[Review] Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Holly Cupala
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 03/01/2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 300
Source: Bought

Violence Sexual ContentProfanity

My Rating:

* On Goodreads I have this posted as 4/5 but I've since bumped it up, mentally. Cupala's sophomore novel moves like a dream, or maybe more like a nightmare, but it has a lucidness to it that's hard to ignore and it still has a hold on me even though I read this book at the beginning of this year.

** I really thought I'd posted this review already, since it wasn't on my to-review pile and I'd already written a review on Goodreads. Ah well. I highly recommend this book. I can see myself re-reading this in the future, call me a masochist (I mean, I re-read If I Stay each year!).

My thoughts

Holly Cupala really enunciates the effect that words can have.

Joy Delamere is suffocating--from the parents who dismiss her with empty words, from the older brother who doesn't have any more words to say to her, from her friends whose words are disapproving and distanced. Most of all though, is Asher's words. His controlling personality means that Joy doesn't need to make her own choices, but that also means that with every word Asher utters, Joy loses a little bit of herself.

DON'T BREATHE A WORD emanates power and strength, while also having resonances of helplessness and fearfulness.

In order for Joy to take back herself, she needs to lose herself in among the streets of downtown Seattle, where she will find the boy whose soothing words might be able to restore what she's lost. Trust. Hope. Belonging. This boy, Creed, reaches out to her one day when Joy is out with Asher. The words "If you need help, you know where to find me" may just be her salvation.

This is a story that sticks. It's heartbreaking and engrossing and full of characters whose depth and realism remind you that THESE KINDS OF THINGS HAPPEN. Joy has a quiet strength, but she's also helpless in the way that her asthma controls her, as well as Asher's hold on her. I can't say I liked her character, but I can say that I sympathised with her. I understood why she left her home to live on the streets. She felt she had no other choice but to get away from everything she's known. Because words have power.

We get to know Creed and May and Santos, the homeless teens that Joy will live with indefinitely. They each have their own secrets and dark pasts, and reasons why they're living out there. Holly Cupala describes the environment with lyrical prose that transport you to downtown Seattle.

DON'T BREATHE A WORD is gritty and seething with realism. It's powerful and transporting. Once you've heard Joy's story, you won't be able to brush it off and think it was nothing. This story counts and makes you think and gets under your skin. If you're looking for a contemporary read that may be a bit difficult to read, but is worthy of literary praise and is realistic, pick this one up.


First lines: 
"Slyt. Slyt.Sliding metal cut through the still night, spiraling ribbons of hair into the sink.
But better the sound of scissors than the rattle of my lungs. One wrong breath would set off the alarm.


Also p. 127 in US pb. 

You can know someone your whole life, and a year later they know nothing about you at all.
(p. 3)

He had reduced me to ashes.
And now I would rise.
(pp. 174)


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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