Don't Breathe a Word
  • Alternative view 1 of Don't Breathe a Word
  • Alternative view 2 of Don't Breathe a Word

Don't Breathe a Word

4.7 21
by Holly Cupala
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

…  See more details below

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cupala (Tell Me a Secret) plunges readers into the traumatized interior life of asthmatic high school junior Joy Delamere. Faking her own kidnapping, Joy cuts and dyes her hair and runs away from her suburban Seattle home and her abusive and controlling boyfriend, Asher. She heads for the notorious homeless haven of Capitol Hill, seeking freedom and an enigmatic musician named Creed, who once told her to find him if she needed help. Creed invites her into his makeshift home and family, which consists of fiery May and the more welcoming Santos, who teach Joy to steal and to survive. “Part of becoming a family was finding your place in it,” Joy thinks. “And despite the terrible air, I hoped there would be room to breathe in this one.” The tense, riveting story flashes between Joy’s past and present, illuminating the brutal extent of Asher’s efforts to control her and Joy’s slow process of rebuilding her self-worth with the help of her new friends. Though the hopeful ending is overly tidy, the characters and setting are tangibly and impressively rendered. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)
Ellen Hopkins
"A powerful story of self-discovery, and a brilliant debut novel."
Courtney Summers
“Don’t Breathe a Word is a gorgeously written, intense page-turner . . . This is a beautiful book.”
Deb Caletti
“I dare you to set it down during its last hundred pages. I dare you.”
—Ellen Hopkins
“A powerful story of self-discovery, and a brilliant debut novel.”
VOYA - Susan Redman-Parodi
To escape her controlling, possessive boyfriend, Asher, Joy stages her own kidnapping in the opening scene of Don't Breathe a Word. Believing she had no other option to end his abuse, Joy becomes a runaway, living on the streets of Seattle, Washington. Abandoning the security of family and home life, Joy takes on the name Triste to honor the sadness and signify the new life she has made for herself. She soon becomes aware that she is not equipped with the survival skills required to live such a cruel life alone. Fortunately, Triste meets a trio of homeless teens who help her endure the inevitable fate of a runaway. The camaraderie they share proves invaluable. After one of the team is discovered hurt, Triste is left with no other option but to seek assistance and jeopardize her anonymity to save a life. Consequently, she is found, her secrets and scars revealed to her family, and she is vulnerable and exposed again to Asher. Will she again suffer his torture or will she break free from his binds? Cupula explores a challenging topic of emotional and physical abuse in a dating relationship with sensitivity and realism. She exposes on a very raw level how the tortured mind of the victim can lead to desperation and isolation, and how, on every level, one is affected by this treatment. This is a good read for teens who want to understand the struggles and limitations in this situation, and it shows how strength and conviction can alter a fate that feels so restrictive. It is a compelling story of courage and survival, and a young girl who rose from the ashes. Reviewer: Susan Redman-Parodi
Kirkus Reviews
Two separate threads come together in this offering from the author of Tell Me a Secret (2010): a grim but compelling take on an abusive relationship and a coming-of-age love story. While they don't entirely mesh, the author's considerable narrative gifts keep readers engaged throughout. For Joy Delamere, asthma is a prison that shuts her in and burdens her family until she meets dangerous, sexy Asher, scion of a wealthy family. Their romance is liberating at first, but it becomes another prison as he gains power over Joy and her family. In desperation, she fakes her kidnapping and flees, losing herself among the homeless teen population on Seattle's Capitol Hill. Suburban naivete nearly does her in, but four teen squatters led by an attractive musician, Creed, take her in and teach her street smarts. Unlike creepy, psychotic Asher, Creed is gently protective of Joy, although there's a whiff of old-fashioned paternalism in their relationship. Tough issues are too easily resolved, but the vivid setting and characters, especially the street kids--outwardly jaded, they're fresh and likable survivors--compensate. Cupala knows her venue inside out and renders this harsh but lively world of hygienically challenged Dumpster divers with a lot of heart. (Fiction. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Joy feels like she's being smothered. The 17-year-old from a privileged family has asthma, but she suffers even more from her suffocating circumstances. Her professional parents want to keep her safe, and her wealthy boyfriend, Asher, is stifling her as well. A slick-talking sadist, he has manipulated Joy to the point where she hardly recognizes herself in the desperate, clingy, self-destructive girl she has become. She thinks there is no way out of her gilded cage except flight, so she stages her own abduction and disappears into Seattle's street life. Miraculously, the teen keeps her relatively innocent perspective throughout most of her sojourn, thanks in large part to the intervention of a street musician and his little family of thrown-away teens. Ultimately, the true terror of life on the streets is revealed when Joy finds a friend beaten nearly to death by a john. She activates her cell phone and calls 911, which allows her parents to find her. Re-entry into her loving family is swift and begs the question: Was it really necessary for Joy to inflict such suffering merely to break up with her boyfriend? The storytelling is less than subtle, but it has strengths in the portrayal of an overprotected young woman's emotional bondage and in the vivid depiction of Pacific Northwest communities. From hyper-rich society fundraisers to the grungy late-night alleys of Capitol Hill, from students at Starbucks to Seattle's vibrant underground music scene, the settings are keenly observed and memorable.—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061766695
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Pages:
299
Sales rank:
771,088
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

What People are saying about this

Courtney Summers
“Don’t Breathe a Word is a gorgeously written, intense page-turner . . . This is a beautiful book.”
Deb Caletti
“I dare you to set it down during its last hundred pages. I dare you.”

Meet the Author

Holly Cupala is the author of Tell Me a Secret. When she isn’t writing or making art, she explores Seattle with her husband and daughter. A portion of her proceeds goes toward helping sexually exploited girls around the world.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >