Review: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
Joy Delamere is suffocating.

From asthma, from her parents, and from her boyfriend, Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out. She can take his cruel words, his tender words . . . until the night they go too far.

To escape, Joy sacrifices her suburban life to find the one who offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. He introduces her to a world of fierce loyalty, to its rules of survival, and to love—a world she won’t easily let go.

Set against the backdrop of the streets of Seattle, Holly Cupala’s power­ful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the secrets we keep, and the ways to redemption. But above all, it is an unflinching story about the extraordinary lengths one girl will go to discover her own strength.

After reading Tell Me a Secret, Holly Cupala's first book, I couldn't wait to read more by her, so when I first heard about Don't Breathe a Word, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy as soon as possible. The book sounded amazing, and after seeing all the great praise it had been getting as well as the gorgeous cover, I just wanted to read it even more. Luckily, I was able to get an early copy and I dove right in only to find one AMAZING new contemporary read! Seriously this book was even better than I had expected.

Don't Breathe a Word begins the story of Joy, a girl who's life has been filled with anything but what her name promises lately. However, after an extremely bad run-in with her Asher, her abusive boyfriend, she makes a run for it. She runs away to Seattle, hoping to get back on the right track again. The streets of Seattle, though, aren't anything like she thought. They're filled with scary people and tough circumstances as well as situations. Just as Joy's about to hit rock bottom, Creed, a boy who gave her the idea originally, swoops in and saves her. As he begins to teach her the ins and outs of Seattle, Joy begins to feel at one with herself, but will everything stay this way? Or does more trouble lay in her path? Will she ever return home? Only more time and pages call in this heartbreaking and gritty portrayal of one teen's life on the streets.

From page one, I immediately became invested in Joy's story. She was a girl who had faced a lot in her past due to not only Asher but from her asthma as well, and while in some ways this had broken her beyond pieces, she was willing to take a stand for herself, even if running away wasn't the best choice ever. What I loved most about her character, though, was seeing her begin to trust herself again as well as grow as a character. She truly became one strong girl by the end of this, and I couldn't have been more proud. I also liked the variety of other characters Holly Cupala introduced. My favorites, though, would have had to be Creed, who was very sweet especially when it came to Joy, as well as Santos and May, two other members of Creed's pack. Each one was fully developed, and by the end, I was not only invested in Joy's story but theirs as well.

The plot in this one really got the ball rolling though. From the first page, I was dying to know more about Joy. What exactly did Asher do to her? Why did she feel so smothered by her parents? I kept looking for answers, and as Holly slowly reveled them, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of detail and development she put into each. I also really enjoyed seeing Creed and Joy's relationship bloom as the novel progressed. They were two people who came from bad situations, but together, they were able to overcome their past demons. Plus it didn't hurt that their relationship developed at a reasonable pace.

Cupala's writing was also very good! I felt she did an excellent job with development as well as showing what street life is really like for teens. She truly didn't sugar coat it one bit, and I really appreciated that and I'm sure many other readers will feel the same.

Diverse, bittersweet, and well written, Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala is an amazing contemporary read, one I just couldn't get enough of. I can't wait to read her next book, because if this is any indication, it's sure to be FABULOUS!

Grade: A+

Don't Breathe a Word (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads) is now out in original paperback for only $8.99 and eBook for $7.99...both of which are stellar deals if you ask me! You can also read the first 64 pages of the book here.

Source: Author (1st copy)- thanks Holly! Publisher (2nd copy)- thanks HarperTeen!


  1. Both of her books are on my tbr list & I'm hoping I can read them before 2012 ends. This one sounds really good, but I will start with Tell Me a Secret. Great review, Lauren! :)

  2. Great review! I can't wait to check it out.

  3. I loved Tell Me A Secret so I'm really looking forward to this one. I'm hoping to get it in the mail soon from B&N. Great review!

  4. I loved Tell Me a Secret and recently purchased this one! I'm so glad you enjoyed Don't Breathe a Word- it sounds fantastic!

    Great review, Lauren!

  5. I can't wait to read this book! It remind me of But I Love Him... a little. I'm glad you liked it.

    Thanks for great review!


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