Don't Breathe a Word

Don't Breathe a Word

by Holly Cupala

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061766695
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/03/2012
Pages: 299
Sales rank: 1,180,434
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About 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.

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.”

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Don't Breathe a Word 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
BookPortrait More than 1 year ago
I haven't read many darker contemporary books, but when I was looking to read an emotional, powerful story, I turned to Don't Breathe a Word. And I was not disappointed. This book is not for the faint of heart, but if you can read past the heartbreaking moments and the grim reality that what is portrayed here is life for some teens, you will be left with a truly poignant story. Joy Delamere struggles to breathe - literally and figuratively. She suffers from asthma, and because of several near-death experiences, she suffers from overprotective parents who nearly smother her in their effort to make sure she is okay. She also suffers emotionally from her relationship with Asher. Eventually it all becomes too much, and Joy knows what she has to do: disappear without a trace. She runs away from home, finding a new life on the streets of Seattle. There she is befriended by several "Ave Rats" - Creed, May, and Santos - and with their help she learns how to survive on the streets. But Joy soon learns what harsh realities this life brings. She is not the only one with a secret, with things to escape from. People aren't always who they seem to be. And on top of everything else, winter is quickly approaching, bringing with it cold, sickness...and possible death... Where do I even begin to talk about this book? I am amazed that Holly Cupala could write this story to be heavy, intense, and yet not completely depressing. She doesn't shy away from any issues that kids on the streets (or teens in general) face, but a book like this needs the gritty truth rather than a glossing over of these unpleasant aspects. It's impossible not to be drawn into the world that Cupala has set up for these teens and to hope that they all do find a way to survive (preferably off the streets). At the same time, the relationships they forged, the family they created themselves, was incredibly touching. The fact that these teens who seem to have seen little true love in their life are capable of loving and taking care of themselves and others is inspiring to see. The four main characters in this book - Joy, Creed, May, and Santos - all have their own story and their own secrets to tell, and learning about all of their secrets and how they'd had to deal with them was nothing short of heartbreaking. I cared for each of them and I hope that, even though the story is over, they all continue to find their way. Surprisingly, the character who bothered me the most in this story was Joy. Even though we learn the most about her story through flashbacks, I wasn't quite as moved by her story as by the others. However, I did appreciate that her time on the streets helped her to grow into a stronger person. Despite my issues with Joy, this book is worth reading for the stories of all the characters, especially Creed, and for insight into lives that most of us cannot even begin to imagine. Don't Breathe a Word has both a story and characters that will draw you in and not let you go. It is not an easy read, but it is certainly a good one. I will look forward to reading more from Holly Cupala!
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
I loved the way this book is written so detailed, so perfect, that it left me in awe. The plot, the characters, the beautifully detailing of emotions had me reader faster and faster! I loved the plot line of this book. It was something different yet realistic in every way. I love the the story takes you on a journey that has been coming all along. The author presents the story as the main characters is falling so deep, you can't help but fall with her. The characters of the book have so much great diversity as well as personality to them. I love that each characters carries their own dark secrets and each of them is revealed. Not all are happy, but I am glad that some manged to find their way back home. The love interest in the story left me grasping for hope! While their is so much dark aspects to the book, the love interest paved a way for redemption. It gave me the meaning that even though things look bad, in the end, it will all be okay. This is a great book of several characters trying to get out of the darkness that their in. They do what they can to survive and the fact that they make it, makes me happy. Don't Breathe a Word is a great book of darkness then of light. A journey to find who they are and where they are going.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. It was deep, beautiful and completely moving. I swear this book has inspired me.
Candacemom2two More than 1 year ago
You ever read a book and think that this is 'your' book? A book that you can connect with on so many levels it's like the author took it straight out of your head? That was this book for me. There are a few other contemporaries I feel this way about, Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert and I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder. These books are different from each other, but if they were smooshed together it would be my book. Perfectly. There were so many things I connected with in this book. I 'got' the main character, Joy, and understood her actions and decisions. I've been in an abusive relationship, I had overprotective parents and I lived on the streets. My story is not really anything like Joy's. Not really. My abusive boyfriend was different, my parents were overprotective for religious reasons and I lived on the streets after I'd moved out and well, my situation was different. And my experience on the streets was different because it wasn't Seattle. But still, I connected, truly connected with everything in this book. I've spent lots of time in Seattle and some of it was with the homeless teens and in the areas they run. So the territory was familiar to me. There was so much in this book I loved. I loved the characters, the setting, the story line and situations. The writing was phenomenal (of course!) and I thought everything was just beautiful. It was heart breaking, heart wrenching, painful and real. It was real. It was all so freaking real. I appreciate that in a book. I loved Holly's first book, Tell Me a Secret, but I loved this one even more. Holly isn't afraid to get to the nitty gritty and keep the truth real. I mean honestly, she walks a line that some would be afraid of. The street life ain't pretty. The situations are tough and scary and the things those teens do for money isn't something that most any parent would want their child to do. But that's how it is, and kudo's to Holly for writing about it. I don't think I've read a book that really took place on the streets. Where we really see the life of a homeless teen. So this was something different and refreshing for me. I couldn't recommend this book any more highly. Honestly, this is one of my most favorite contemporaries of the year. Either in first or second place, it's up at the top though. Seriously LOVED it.
Cupcakegirly More than 1 year ago
Everyone needs some breathing room in their lives but for Joy, it's become a struggle of life or death. Each breathe leads her one step closer to suffocation or one step closer to freedom. Freedom from her parents constant worry, freedom from her boyfriend Asher's control and freedom to figure out who she's meant to be. If she can manage to escape, to find the homeless boy who offered to help her, maybe she'll be able to breathe again. Cupala doesn't shy away from tough issues like the unseen abuse Joy suffers in her relationship with Asher to the struggle of teenage homelessness. This story is gut wrenching at times but also full of love, hope and strength. A definite must read!
jenababy13 More than 1 year ago
Don't Breathe A Word is a moving, emotional story about dealing with struggles and learning that even if you think you've hit rock bottom, there's a way to come out on top. Joy suffers from asthma but that's not all. Her parents are too overprotective and her boyfriend, Asher, is way too possessive. Joy feels like she's completely suffocating and cannot take anymore, so she decides to run away. She takes to the streets of Seattle to try and live on her own, but she quickly realizes how harsh it is on her own. Joy knows whatever happens, that she cannot risk going home. After changing her name to Triste and meeting Creed, she hopes that she'll be able to finally breathe, but things don't always get better right away. Firstly, I love this cover. The girl with her eyes closed, blonde hair flowing around her face it's beautiful and perfectly describes the whirlwind Joy is thrown into. Also the fact that it's purple and yellow which is two of my favorite colors! Just gorgeous! Don't Breathe A Word is a very gritty, but powerful book. It shows you what can happen when someone is pushed too far, when someone is forced to do the unthinkable just to stay alive, and what can happen if you give yourself hope. Living on the street is not the freedom Joy wanted, what she finds is a harsh world that she's not so sure she fits into. Could you imagine selling your body for money? Digging in the trash for food? Stealing? I know I couldn't and wouldn't want to. Joy is an admirable character. After all she goes through she still comes out on top. She gives herself and those around her hope and things to look forward to. She also finds love in the most unexpected way, which I believe is the best way. The other characters in the story I enjoyed as well. May and Santos, who are part of her "street crew" are exactly the kind of homeless teens that show you how strong or how weak (depending on how you look at it) you have to be to survive on the streets. But, beneath all the tough exterior are soft hearts if you just dig enough to look for them. And finally, Creed. I loved Creed. He is very into his music and I so admire that about him. He also, is the "big brother" to their crew and he does what he can to look out for them all and keep them safe. Yet, Creed still has a smart head on his shoulders and in the end he sets things right for himself. Holly Cupala created a very enjoyable, dark story... a story I really loved reading. I love to read about teens who hit rock bottom and then crawl their way back up. It's the darkness of a book I believe that grabs hold of you at first and pulls you in, but then ends up being very encouraging and inspiring in the end. If you're considering reading Don't Breathe A Word, I say go for it, it's a great read.
sithereandread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
DON'T BREATHE A WORD, by Holly Cupala, is an honest and gritty portrayal of teen homelessness in Seattle, Washington. Joy once had a normal life, but ever since meeting Asher it has taken a toll for the worse. The pressure builds until she can no longer take it and she takes a hold of her life and runs for the one person she felt truly understood her, on the dangerous streets of Seattle. Leaving behind Joy, Triste (Joy's street name) joins a band of homeless teens and learns what it is like to be on your own and fight for survival. Cupala created a beautiful, but harsh book about the truth and hardships that teens like this struggle with each and every day.I've been in a YA contemporary slump lately, but this book truly changed my perspective. Joy struggled each day with asthma, so her life was pretty sheltered but not a bad one. Her family cared for her so much and tried to keep her alive at all costs, even until the point of suffocating her. Her initial obsession with Asher was his 'newness' to her life until things took a horrible turn. I had trouble with reading the scenes with Asher. I felt bad for Joy who only wanted to be normal, but soon found her life controlled by this one boy. His mental abuse shattered Joy's life until she decided to run away. Her time away from Asher and her family was no picnic either.On the streets of Seattle, Joy/Triste meets Creed, Santos, and May. By the end of this book I felt like I was a part of their little family and I wanted them all to succeed and do something with themselves. Cupala's eclectic band of main characters worked together to survive and I yearned for all of them to turn out safe. I was always wary of Santos and May with their secretive ways of survival. Cupala did not sugar coat any of these character's personalities or acts while living on the streets. I loved the relationship between Creed and Triste. It wasn't "OMG I love you" straight away. Their relationship and trust progressed as most normal relationships should, even in this not-so-normal situation.Along with wondering if each character would make it through the night, I worried about Triste's severe asthma problem. With her whole life being sheltered and clean against things that would bring on an attack, I was anxious to see what would happen if she got sick with no easily accessible medical care.Overall, this was a fantastic book. I loved how Cupala portrayed this story and I loved all her characters. Definitely one to add to your list of books to read this year!
BurgandyIce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My Rating: 4.5 - Caught-Me-Off-Guard GREAT book.This book is heart-wrenching and satisfying and frightening all at the same time. It is written from Joy¿s perspective and the story unfolds as her thoughts do, as she tries different ways of dealing with a horrible, controlling situation. I was furiously angry with the man who caused the problems in the first place: Asher, with his obsession for crows and his fascination for their hierarchy. He experiments with controlling an young girl and it¿s sickening.I was heartbroken over the damage he inflicted on so many levels, but the most painful, I thought, was the sexual. She was drawn to him even as she hated him. He had woken her physically and that awakening was always there, exposed, between her and men around her. Even when she ran, this sensual tension could not go away.The danger on the streets felt so real. It was so sad how the kids only had their bodies when everything else was stripped away. They lost possessions and shelter and were reduced to using their bodies to survive, and that is a stark reality that is hard to swallow. Horrible.I loved the way Joy changed and grew. She was completely credible to me and her decisions made sense. I was frustrated with her family, all of them. Her parents didn¿t want to help or listen, not even at the very end. Her friend, Neeta, saw more, but could only help Joy as much as she would let her.Creed is amazing and I loved all of Joy¿s street friends and who she became herself, Triste, to be able to see her situation more clearly and respond more truly. And I was ultimately overjoyed with her choices because she didn¿t have options. I mean, this book really tugged at my heart as a Mom. I really wanted to step in and be there for her, point out her non-choices surrounding the Asthma when she seemed to ignore them indefinitely. (Partly because one of my kids rode in an ambulance and was in the ICU for a few days over breathing issues.) Joy was willing to take more risks than I was willing to let her!!But I think that¿s exactly how the author planned it out. As Joy took her risks, she turned into a confident person and left the victim behind.I expected the heart-wrenching when I read this book, I guess, but I did not expect the fast pace it was delivered with. There isn¿t a lull in the entire book. Only the phone stopped me long enough to grab a snack before finishing it. And I had no intention of reading it all in one day, believe me. I don¿t know the depth of truth regarding the street kids, personally, but they won¿t be invisible to me after this book.
pandaris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of the darkest contemporaries I've read, but also one of the best. I had a hard time getting into the book for the first 70 or so pages, but once I delved deeper into the story, it grabbed me. I think I stayed up all night to finish it. Dark and gritty, this is one story that won't be forgotten.Would I loved most about this book was that it doesn't give you the answers at the beginning. While you have an idea of why Joy needed to escape her smothering boyfriend, you have to read the entire book to truly understand what was going on. It's presented in alternating chapters between past and present, with the past mostly highlighting her interactions with Asher. He seems perfect at first, but as you go back with Joy you realize who he really is. I didn't like Joy's family one bit, especially her older brother. Her parents were completely oblivious, but her brother had an idea of what was going on. But when Joy shows up with her friend unexpectedly, he turns her away. His own sister. I'm sorry, but honestly? I'm incredibly thankful I don't have a family like that.Joy is an unforgettable character. She endures everything Asher throws at her, and yet hits a point where she realizes enough is enough. And is then brave enough to leave and live on the streets. I don't know that I could be as strong as she was and survive on the streets. She searches for Creed, the boy she remembers seeing on previous trips into Seattle, and finds him. With Creed and his group she learns how truly dark the world is, and yet still fights to be her own person.This was the first book of Holly's that I had read, and the writing was amazing. She covered a span of tough subjects brilliantly without sugarcoating them, but still managed to give Don't Breathe a Word a somewhat believable ending that I was pleased with. This is definitely one of those books that will keep you thinking about the different problems that face our society after you've finished the book. And helps to raise awareness of those problems. Verbal abuse is just as hurtful as physical, and I'm glad Holly wasn't afraid to write about this subject.
ShaEliPar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don't Breathe A Word is a bit like a car crash you can't look away from, but that's not meant to be an insult. Rather its a reflection on all the emotions you feel when you see one: Curiosity, Sadness, Disbelief, Hope. Mix all these things together and you have a sense of what it was like to read this gut wrenching, contemporary novel that was impossible to put down.From the very first page of Don't Breathe A Word I wanted to help Joy so badly. Due to her asthma, she's spent most of her life in and out of hospitals, making her feel like a burden to her family. She's also become dependent on her verbally abusive boyfriend, but isn't sure how to change that. Feeling like her only solution is to runaway, she goes searching for a homeless boy named Creed. However, running away isn't quite the solution Joy thought it would be and soon living (as well as breathing) become difficult for her.It's impossible not to care for Joy because she's such a broken person. She honestly believes all the bad things that have happened to her are somehow her fault. She's never had the chance to be independent either and is desperate to prove to herself that she can be. This causes her to make a lot of mistakes, but desperate as I was for Joy to change I was glad that author Holly Cupala didn't just magically make Joy self confidant and tough. Despite everything she's been through Joy is not weak or helpless and its great to see how she slowly begins to understand that about herself.Joy's connection to Creed didn't play out quite the way I thought it would. That's not to say I didn't like how it ended up, just that I didn't always "get it". I felt that sometimes their was this amazing connection between them and then other times it didn't feel like there was any at all. I did like Creed though, he cares deeply for people and uses his music as an outlet for all his emotions. I also like how him being a musician played into the story.I really loved the dynamic between Joy, Creed, May and Santos. All four may have very different reasons for living on the streets, but none of that matters when they end up sharing an abandon house and trying to keep each other safe. While its not always happy times, they bicker and fight just like any other family, they do care about each other.Despite its heavy subject matter, the novel has a very quick pace which I found to be helpful in dealing with all the intense emotions. The ending is pretty good though not what I was expecting. Still its a hopeful one and I don't always need my novels to have perfect storybook "happy" endings if they're done in a thoughtful, realistic way.If you're a fan of YA contemps that deal with serious subject matters then you should definitely read Don't Breathe A Word. I'll be looking forward to reading more from author Holly Cupala.
BornBookish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was quite an intense book! I enjoyed it but also found it to be emotionally upsetting. I tried reading a little before bed one night. Not a good idea. Small doses during the day turned out to be the better route, for me anyway.The story is about Joy who has severe asthma and has almost died from it more than once. Her family has become so protective of her, never letting her out of their sight, they don¿t realize that they are the ones who are suffocating her. Joy¿s boyfriend Asher is rich, good looking, seemingly sweet, the perfect boyfriend, on the outside at least. Nobody knows the real Asher, the one who abuses Joy in more way than one, the one controlling her every move, her every breathe.Finally when things go too far, Joy decides there is no other way to escape then to run away. She runs to the streets of Seattle, which serve as home to thousands of homeless adults and teens.I wanted to wrap Joy in a huge hug and tell her that everything would be okay! I hated that she put up with Asher and all his abuse for so long. I wanted her to tell someone! But I understood why she couldn¿t.Once on the streets, Joy finds her place with three other teens: Creed, Santos, and May, who live together in an abandoned house. They take her in, accept her as part of their family, and teach her how to survive on the street. All three of them were such great characters, that I immediately fell in love with them all. I can¿t get over how well written Asher¿s character was. He was absolutely revolting; I wanted to both punch him and puke all at once. The terror that he used to control Joy completely jumped off the page and scared the crap out of me.I thought the story was very well written and I really liked how it was set up. We slowly learn about Joy & Asher¿s relationship through flashback chapters. This added a sense of suspense and mystery to the story, and it also helped it from being too overpowering. I think if all the chapters about her and Asher were all at the beginning I would never have kept reading. It would have been too much to handle. As for objectionable content, there was quite a lot of swearing especially the f bomb. There were some sexual things that were referenced but never described in detail. Lastly, there were a few instances of violence and blood, mostly not bad except for one instance that was a little graphic.I think what made reading this book so hard, was knowing that this stuff really goes on everyday. It serves as a great tool in bringing attention to the world of teen homelessness. It definitely pulls on your heart and makes you want to do something to help.
Candacemom2two on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You ever read a book and think that this is 'your' book? A book that you can connect with on so many levels it's like the author took it straight out of your head? That was this book for me. There are a few other contemporaries I feel this way about, Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert and I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder. These books are different from each other, but if they were smooshed together it would be my book. Perfectly.There were so many things I connected with in this book. I 'got' the main character, Joy, and understood her actions and decisions. I've been in an abusive relationship, I had overprotective parents and I lived on the streets. My story is not really anything like Joy's. Not really. My abusive boyfriend was different, my parents were overprotective for religious reasons and I lived on the streets after I'd moved out and well, my situation was different. And my experience on the streets was different because it wasn't Seattle. But still, I connected, truly connected with everything in this book. I've spent lots of time in Seattle and some of it was with the homeless teens and in the areas they run. So the territory was familiar to me.There was so much in this book I loved. I loved the characters, the setting, the story line and situations. The writing was phenomenal (of course!) and I thought everything was just beautiful. It was heart breaking, heart wrenching, painful and real. It was real. It was all so freaking real. I appreciate that in a book.I loved Holly's first book, Tell Me a Secret, but I loved this one even more. Holly isn't afraid to get to the nitty gritty and keep the truth real. I mean honestly, she walks a line that some would be afraid of. The street life ain't pretty. The situations are tough and scary and the things those teens do for money isn't something that most any parent would want their child to do. But that's how it is, and kudo's to Holly for writing about it. I don't think I've read a book that really took place on the streets. Where we really see the life of a homeless teen. So this was something different and refreshing for me.I couldn't recommend this book any more highly. Honestly, this is one of my most favorite contemporaries of the year. Either in first or second place, it's up at the top though. Seriously LOVED it.
wastepaperprose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I cannot say enough about Don't Breathe a Word. It stole my heart and haunted my dreams. I couldn't stop thinking about it after I put it down, and it took me over a week to figure out what I could possible read next that could live up to the enjoyment and satisfaction I got out of reading this powerful novel.Joy's story answers the question: How far would someone go to escape their own life? Her plan is to disappear in plain sight. She walks out of her comfortable existence, away from the safety of her home, her loving but overprotective family and her perfect but controlling and verbally abusive boyfriend to find the only person she thinks can possibly understand - a homeless boy named Creed who sees past the facade. To rid herself of the old, she has to start from scratch but the journey isn't what she thought it would be. It's dangerous and frightening, and, even though she's stumbled upon him several times before, Creed is nowhere to be found. It isn't until she's lost everything - possessions, money and her medication - that they cross paths, but the reception isn't as warm as she'd hoped. Reluctantly, Creed and his band of Ave Rats take her in and teach her how to make it on the streets. They look out for each other, panhandle for cash, dumpster dive for food, and even break the law in an effort to survive. Told in flashes of past and present, Don't Breathe a Word is captivating and terrifyingly at the same time. Weighty social issues like homelessness, drug use and prostitution are exposed in gritty detail. This moving story about people struggling to find their place in the world, some of whom are in danger of losing themselves along the way, will wring out your emotions like a wet dishcloth. In places, it will knock the wind right out of you. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2012 and remains one of my favorite reads of 2011. To recap the note I sent to author Holly Cupala after I turned the last page, "it was A-FREAKING-MAZING." I could evangelize on behalf of Don't Breathe a Word until the cows come home, but you simply have to read it yourself to experience each heartbreaking and heartwarming moment. It is definitely a book that will stick with me for a long time.
xXlovelyxladyXx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Words can't even begin to describe what a beautiful story this book turned out to be. Luckily enough, I was able to buy this with a gift card and it was pretty much impossible for me to put this book down. Even now, the emotions of this powerhouse novel are still spinning in the pit of my stomach. Its hard for me to describe how I feel though so...Let me start from the beginning.Joy Delamere is suffocating. Pretty much everyone can - or already has - relate to the feeling...moreWords can't even begin to describe what a beautiful story this book turned out to be. Luckily enough, I was able to buy this with a gift card and it was pretty much impossible for me to put this book down. Even now, the emotions of this powerhouse novel are still spinning in the pit of my stomach. Its hard for me to describe how I feel though so...Let me start from the beginning.Joy Delamere is suffocating. Pretty much everyone can - or already has - relate to the feeling. But everything Joy went through was so painful, so tormenting, that I really could relate to her. She felt so real, so pained, so alive, and yet so strong in her basic need to survive. I was glad that she was able to escape Asher's hold on her because after everything she went through, she deserved something more.I asbolutely loved Creed. My only complaint is that I needed more of him. He was strong, vulnerable, passionate, and a musician. What's not to love? But he and Joy also had a connection. Their relationship grew throughout the book which I loved to watch and they may not be the ideal couple but they were imperfectly perfect for each other.I also loved Santos and May in their own right. Two troubled homeless teens with their own story to tell and that I was desperate to hear. I felt a connection with every single character and it was incredibly admirable that these characters created a family in an otherwise cruel world.Overall, I loved this book. The setting was gritty but very realistic. I loved the characters, the plot, the ending, it was all so amazing! And even though I would love to hear more about Creed and Joy, I think their story is done. Because they got their happy ending and they don't need anyone to mess it up again. :)Rating: 5 out of 5 StarsP.S. I'm in serious need of a happy go lucky book right now lol. All I seem to be reading lately are dramas and tear jerkers and I need something disgustingly gooey. Anyone got any ideas?
hrose2931 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel shows just how little it takes for a girl to go from happy and somewhat normal to controlled and abused. Joy, though having severe asthma and being constantly watched by her family for the first signs of an illness, has friends that she laughs with and talks to. She is well adjusted and generally okay, though feeling a bit suffocated by all the attention at home. But along comes Asher, much older and wiser, rich, powerful, mysterious and he shows an interest in Joy. That's almost all it takes. She gives up complete control to him and loses herself to his needs, wants and desires. She believes everything he tells her, his threats, his anger-she did this, she brought it on herself, she belongs to him-she is his property. Again, she is suffocated by his attention, his "love", his threats.The book opens with her cutting her long hair off, twenty inches of it and stuffing it in an envelope. She dyes her dark hair blonde, white blonde along with her eyebrows. She doesn't want to be found. She fakes her own kidnapping. And she flees to the "safety" of the streets of Seattle. The streets where she saw a boy who told her he could help her. It's risky and I think Joy is reckless considering how close she comes to dying when she even gets a cold. She prepares with several inhalers, but what good is that against infection? She's doe eyed when she hits the streets. She doesn't realize what could happen to her. I think it's stupid considering what you read in the papers. Her goal is to find the boy who said he could help her. In the meantime, she stick out like a sore thumb. I also don't think her reaction to living on the street is quite what it should be. In just a few days, she goes from eating at a table and wearing designer clothes, to eating out of a dumpster and wearing Salvation Army clothes. But she doesn't seem to be as bothered by it as she should be. She lives in a house that smells like crap, literally and that's where she goes to the bathroom. In a toilet that hasn't flushed for years.However, I don't think this was a book so much about living on the streets as it was about Joy, being so desperate, that she gave up her life of middle class luxury and her family, to live on the streets to escape an abusive boyfriend because that was the only way out that she saw. She'd never told anyone so she didn't have anyone to turn to for help. She doesn't even confide in her "street family". There are some realities ofwhat it's like for teens living on the street and the reasons they do. Abusive parents, foster care, drugs. The reasons go on and when they hit the streets bad things can happen.But this novel shows how good things can happen, too. Not necessarily from living on the street, but from finding people to care about and care about you. How to start healing from the hurt. How to get stronger and believe in yourself. What it takes to walk away.Yes, there is some romance, not much of it, but Creed, the protector of the group and the boy that said he could help Joy is one of a kind. He's sensitive and tough all at once. But not the brooding type. Tough as in street smarts. I liked his character a lot. He was always worried about his friends/family. May, the other girl in the story was an enigma to me. I wasn't sure what was going on with her. I liked her at times and not at others and never really figured out her relationship with Santos, the other member of the "family." We never get the full story on Santos, at least not from his lips, but I think we can piece it together and it's sad. The author's note in the back of the book states that Seattle has one of the highest population of homeless teens in the United States. In the US alone we have 1.6 million homeless teens. The story in this book was just a sampling of the reasons teens leave home. For me, the title had so many meanings. Asher would not want her to Breathe a Word of what he was doing to her. She couldn't Breathe a W
myheartheartsbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.Review:Joy is an asthmatic teen, who has almost died several times. Her illness is a big part of her world. When her older brother, the elder J, goes off to college the responsibility of taking care of Joy is placed on her boyfriend Asher. Asher who takes more than her gives. After that night, realizes that Asher is suffocating her inside out, more than her Asthma ever did. So she does the only thing that she thinks she can do, Joy runs away. Running in the direction of the mysterious boy who knew, when no one else knew, when all the people who were supposed to know her couldn't see that she was suffocating. So sheltered Joy takes off to the streets of Washington, where the rules she's know don't apply and nobody cares. The Washington streets at night is like a whole other universe to the one she used to see during the day. It's every man for himself, until she meets Creed. Creed who is the only twinkle of good, surrounded my all the bad stuff. Cupala does a unique and wonderfully accurate job of recreating the dirty, gritty, hard, and unfair life of Joy and all of the other homeless people. It's like the reader is given a chance to get a glimpse of the life of a homeless person. It's the opposite of reading a pamphlet, it is hard not to become emotionally involved, especially when you realize that everyone has a story. A story explaining how the life the they left behind was so horrible that they'd choose the wild and dangerous streets. Don't feel sorry for any of the characters in the novel however, because they have a better ending than most real homeless people do.
Bookswithbite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the way this book is written so detailed, so perfect, that it left me in awe. The plot, the characters, the beautifully detailing of emotions had me reader faster and faster!I loved the plot line of this book. It was something different yet realistic in every way. I love the the story takes you on a journey that has been coming all along. The author presents the story as the main characters is falling so deep, you can't help but fall with her.The characters of the book have so much great diversity as well as personality to them. I love that each characters carries their own dark secrets and each of them is revealed. Not all are happy, but I am glad that some manged to find their way back home.The love interest in the story left me grasping for hope! While their is so much dark aspects to the book, the love interest paved a way for redemption. It gave me the meaning that even though things look bad, in the end, it will all be okay.This is a great book of several characters trying to get out of the darkness that their in. They do what they can to survive and the fact that they make it, makes me happy. Don't Breathe a Word is a great book of darkness then of light. A journey to find who they are and where they are going.
amusingmother on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a difficult book to read. At the same time, once I started it, I couldn't put it down. Cupola writes a compelling story and it must be said, it is edgy and not a book you read, put down and forget about. Cupola creates a set of circumstances that believably drive Joy to the streets. Feeling trapped and unable to "breathe" both literally and figuratively, she plans ahead and leaves her life behind. She is fortunate in that she lands with a small group of teens who watch each others' backs, keep secrets they discover, and take care of one another. As the story unfolds, the reader understands more clearly why each character is a homeless teen, what drove them out of their homes, why they feel safer with each other, and what they want for their futures. The "edgy" part of the book is mostly allusion and not specifically spelled out which is truly a gift of a great writer. The author clearly writes the difficulties of being homeless in Seattle. It is hard and dangerous. In order to survive, alliances need to be made. Some alliances keep you safe. Others use, abuse, and eventually might kill. One statistic quoted in the book is that 25% of the homeless in Seattle are registered sex offenders. Joy/Triste has her fair share of run-ins with a few of them. This is where helpful alliances come in handy.Language is strong. Swearing is abundant, depending on who is talking. Violence is a part of life on the streets and within the pages of the book.Definitely worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't Breathe A Word is important. That's what first came to mind when I attempted to put what this book made me feel into words. Holly Cupala takes you from this world and plunges you into one of fierce loyalty, danger, love, and ultimately, painful self-discovery. We follow a weak and fragile Joy as she becomes the strong and capable Triste. As a girl who struggles with extreme asthma, Joy has her entire life decided for her. One fateful night, she decides to live for herself. Running away from her home and troublesome boyfriend Asher, Joy heads to Seattle to try and blend in with the homeless teen population there. With only a backpack filled with supplies(including her medication) to her name, she quickly finds herself in over her head. She seeks help from Creed, a homeles youth who made her a promise that he'd help before she ran away. Once she finds him, she soon adapts to her new life. Before long, she's doing raids on stores for supplies with Creed's friends, and for the first time feels like she belongs, she feels community. But paradise doesn't last, and soon they lose their home and family, drifting apart. All except for Creed, who grows even closer with Triste as the story progresses. Eventually her past and present collide, shaping her future into something no one could have predicted. Don't Breathe A Word is an impactful and compelling story about love, sacrifice, and self transformation. 10/10.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    This is a powerful book where the main character Joy goes on a desperate journey to figure out who she is without an overbearing boyfriend and her hovering parents. To learn to breathe on her own. Literally. She has severe asthma which her parents micromanage. When she first met Asher, it felt dangerous, fun and like a break from the controlling--boy was she surprised when he begins to question her, be obsessed with her every move, and even hurts her.      She takes very dramatic precautions to escape, and I couldn't believe the minute details that she thought of in order to pull it off. It shows a world that I haven't gotten much exposure to, especially in the ya genre.      The flashbacks are a little jolty, but overall I liked the character that it shows, how she got where she was, and why she felt that way. I could see the measures she took and the end picture, and then little by little what got her into that situation. I just wish there was more indications when the time frame was changing to orient me a little more.      I really loved reading the dynamic and loyalty with the Aves. The lengths they go to protect and care for each other as well as what they're running from and what they have to do to survive really takes my breath. It is powerful, gritty and I couldn't get enough.     The ending wasn't what I expected, but I was still satisfied with the emotional wrap up and the depths of emotional development. It was sweet and powerful, and perfectly imperfect.  Bottom Line: Powerful and emotional, character driven contemporary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure about this book at first but once i started to read it, i couldn't put it down! This is a great story about how words can hurt, how someone can have so much control over you and how hard life can be at times. I lost myself within this book and i believe anyone else will as well! I give so much credit to the auther for writing such an amazing book in my opinion :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cappulas debut novel is unlike anything I have ever read. It dosplays what teen abuse and the ignorance of some families to a t. As a victim of teen violence this hit home. Please see my blog for more.
StalkinTheBooks More than 1 year ago
Don't Breathe A Word is a bit like a car crash you can't look away from, but that's not meant to be an insult. Rather its a reflection on all the emotions you feel when you see one: Curiosity, Sadness, Disbelief, Hope. Mix all these things together and you have a sense of what it was like to read this gut wrenching, contemporary novel that was impossible to put down. From the very first page of Don't Breathe A Word I wanted to help Joy so badly. Due to her asthma, she's spent most of her life in and out of hospitals, making her feel like a burden to her family. She's also become dependent on her verbally abusive boyfriend, but isn't sure how to change that. Feeling like her only solution is to runaway, she goes searching for a homeless boy named Creed. However, running away isn't quite the solution Joy thought it would be and soon living (as well as breathing) become difficult for her. It's impossible not to care for Joy because she's such a broken person. She honestly believes all the bad things that have happened to her are somehow her fault. She's never had the chance to be independent either and is desperate to prove to herself that she can be. This causes her to make a lot of mistakes, but desperate as I was for Joy to change I was glad that author Holly Cupala didn't just magically make Joy self confidant and tough. Despite everything she's been through Joy is not weak or helpless and its great to see how she slowly begins to understand that about herself. Joy's connection to Creed didn't play out quite the way I thought it would. That's not to say I didn't like how it ended up, just that I didn't always "get it". I felt that sometimes their was this amazing connection between them and then other times it didn't feel like there was any at all. I did like Creed though, he cares deeply for people and uses his music as an outlet for all his emotions. I also like how him being a musician played into the story. I really loved the dynamic between Joy, Creed, May and Santos. All four may have very different reasons for living on the streets, but none of that matters when they end up sharing an abandon house and trying to keep each other safe. While its not always happy times, they bicker and fight just like any other family, they do care about each other. Despite its heavy subject matter, the novel has a very quick pace which I found to be helpful in dealing with all the intense emotions. The ending is pretty good though not what I was expecting. Still its a hopeful one and I don't always need my novels to have perfect storybook "happy" ending if it's done in a thoughtful, realistic way. If you're a fan of YA contemps that deal with serious subject matters then you should definitely read Don't Breathe A Word. I'm certainly looking forward to reading more from author Holly Cupala.