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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left Me Gasping for Breath! (Heavy Content)
At a glance:

Don't Breathe a Word is an amazingly powerful and fantastically written book that shows you the harsh realities of abuse, teenage homelessness, and other tough issues, without being depressing or losing that sense of hope I long for when reading a book. It was heartbreaking, but it was also funny and exciting and romantic and beautiful. Even if...
Published on January 10, 2012 by Reading Teen

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's A Good Read
Don't Breathe a Word is one of those edgy books that's raw, emotional gripping and tackles the tougher things teens deal with now a days. I normally have to be in a certain mood to read these type of books, but Holly Cupala's writing is brutally honest, powerful, and lyrically written which made it hard for me to stop reading it. I got to a point in the story that I...
Published on January 9, 2012 by Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids ...


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left Me Gasping for Breath! (Heavy Content), January 10, 2012
This review is from: Don't Breathe a Word (Paperback)
At a glance:

Don't Breathe a Word is an amazingly powerful and fantastically written book that shows you the harsh realities of abuse, teenage homelessness, and other tough issues, without being depressing or losing that sense of hope I long for when reading a book. It was heartbreaking, but it was also funny and exciting and romantic and beautiful. Even if you don't normally read contemporary, I think you will love this book.

Review:

I don't read a whole lot of contemporary. Especially books that tend to deal with issues, whether it's abuse, disorders, drugs, or the like. I just tend lean more toward fantasy, paranormal, or dystopia. But I did read Holly Cupala's Tell Me a Secret and really connected with it, so I was excited to read Don't Breathe a Word, to see what Holly would do this time. This book blew the roof off any contemporary I've ever read. I loved it!

I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Holly wrote it in such a way that you never felt hopeless. You could always see a light at the end of the tunnel. She also wrote in past and present, using flashbacks to reveal more and more about why Joy ran away, and the abuse and shame that she had to endure before leaving. There was a mystery element the book had that added to the appeal of the story, and the pacing was perfect.

I fell in love with each and every one of the characters. Ok, maybe not Asher.....ack! But the others, even when they were being total idiots, I just wanted to adopt them, and take care of them and tell them they are worth something. I loved Joy, and CREED!!! Especially Creed! I loved that even though he was a broken person, he still did all he could to protect the others. I can't tell you how much I love listening to someone play guitar and sing, so I could just hear Creed in my head. Two of the characters I felt the most for, though, were May and Santos. They seriously just made me want to cry.

Holly did such an amazing job with the intensity and the setting as well. I was in constant fear for the lives of these kids. Whether it was from creepy stalker guy, or Asher, or the police, or other gangs, my nerves were standing on end all the time. I felt like I could see the places that they were living and "working" at in Seattle. I've never been there before, yet I could picture it all clearly in my head. Some will undoubtedly say that the ending was unrealistic, but just because something isn't probable, it doesn't mean it couldn't happen. I thought it was perfect. I would have been upset with anything less.

I loved this book!

-Andye

Content:
Sexual Content: Heavy
Profanity: Very Heavy
Violence: Moderate, including abuse
Other Notables: Drinking, Drug use, Prostitution, Teenage Homelessness, Theft
For more details, check out Don't Breathe a Word on Parentalbookreviews.com
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Rating: 4.5 - Caught-Me-Off-Guard GREAT book., January 14, 2012
This review is from: Don't Breathe a Word (Paperback)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 Stars, March 18, 2013
This review is from: Don't Breathe a Word (Paperback)
Joy is suffocating. She has had enough near death experiences to where her family has become obsessively overprotective of her. Then comes along Asher who seems great at first but then emotionally abuses her which soon leads to physical. All this is wearing Joy down until one day she comes across a boy who offers her an option which she didn't think she had.

Joy fakes her own abduction and pretty much runs away to Seattle where she finds Creed the boy who told her if she needs him he is there. And she meets his street family May and Santos. All the characters were very well written and we learn about each of their hardships and inner battles. Cupala also kept it very realistic as far as the street life goes and what it means to be a runaway. We met all kinds of people from pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, addicts and the list goes on.

My only issue with this book was the ending. For a book so intense the ending wrapped up too quickly and perfectly. I guess I just expected more.

Overall this book took me by surprise it had been sitting on my shelf for months and it's another one of those books where i'm cursing myself out for not picking up sooner. Cupala not only creates a story so gripping about Joy's struggle to find strength in herself to live a life that she wants but she also bring attention to the teen homeless population and all the horrible things they are really dealing with in real life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it and would most definitley recommend it., September 30, 2012
This review is from: Don't Breathe a Word (Paperback)
My little sister and I read vastly different literature. She sticks nearly solely to dark contemporary literature, while I like to stay with my fantasy and science-fiction. Every now and then, we flop and read something in the genre that the other loves - I usually do it unprompted, my sister upon my recommendation.

The moment I finished this book, I walked into her room, put it into her hands, and said, "Read this."

I liked this book a lot. Not enough to keep my copy and demand my sister get her own, but it is one of the best pieces of contemporary fiction that I've read in a very long time. Cupala manages to capture the emotion that teenagers experience when they're trapped in a situation that they can only see one way out of. From the first page, I pitied Joy - her weakness, her own entrapment, the birdcage she had set for herself. I hated Asher. I loved Neeta and how she kept trying to help Joy, even when Joy herself thought she was lost forever. I pitied May and how she kept getting sucked back into the same routine. I adored Creed and everything he stood for. And my love for Santos knows no bounds - though that may just be because he paralleled their lives to Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

[SPOILER ALERT] For all the superamazingness that is most of the novel, the ending, of course, is a bit unrealistic. All of the characters get some variation of a happy ending or a comeuppance. The optimist in me loves that, and the reviewer in me goes, "Hey, that shouldn't have happened!" But my optimist keeps winning on this one. [END SPOILER ALERT]

Given how often library books were brought into the story, I'd love to recommend the fictional Joy one - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. With all the problems she had breaking out of her birdcage, I think she'd understand Jane, and how she was "no bird; and no net ensnared [her]; [she] was a free human being with an independent will."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's A Good Read, January 9, 2012
This review is from: Don't Breathe a Word (Paperback)
Don't Breathe a Word is one of those edgy books that's raw, emotional gripping and tackles the tougher things teens deal with now a days. I normally have to be in a certain mood to read these type of books, but Holly Cupala's writing is brutally honest, powerful, and lyrically written which made it hard for me to stop reading it. I got to a point in the story that I wanted to know more. The other thing I liked, is that Holly doesn't shy away some pretty tough subjects, and she gives readers a real look inside teenage relationships, teenage abuse, family dynamics, teenage homelessness, friendships and more. As heartbreaking as it was seeing all Joy/Triste had to deal with, I really admire the empowered person she grew into.

The story follows that of Joy (who on the streets is known as Triste), a teenage girl who's looking for a way to escape. She wants out for her abusive relationship with her well to do boyfriend who hails from a prominent family in the Seattle area, an escape from her overly protective parents, and to run away from the person who's become since dating Asher. The thing I like that Holly does with Joy's character is she allowed me to see how broken she was, how and why she changed so much. In doing so, she also let me see the person she becomes. Through out the course of Joy's journey Holly does such an elegant job at revealing bits of Joy's past mixed into present tense, which allowed me to see what lead up to her decision to leave her life behind and what she's going to do now.

Joy's transition to life on the street is far from easy and in fact, it's at times down right scary. Luckily she has the help of Creed, the boy how gave her the strength to seek a different life on the streets. Creed's group of friends are far from those Joy had back home before she started dating Asher, but regardless of back grounds, Joy learns the importance of friendships and having one's back at all costs. It's during this time and through a course of events that Joy truly becomes a person who finds her inner strength and grows into a surprisingly strong character. Over all this is a story about a broken girl who through the course of her own journey discovers the inner strength to break away from everything that was holding her back.

This book won't be for everyone, but I think that everyone who reads it will take something away from it. There is abuse, some language, an attempted rape, and a few scenes that might be a little graphic for some. This is a book I'd recommend to mature YA readers and those who enjoy reading a literary book with a contemporary setting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it, June 8, 2014
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This review is from: Don't Breathe a Word (Paperback)
I enjoyed the story and the characters. The book was nicely written and the characters were well developed. A good book for every teenager to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and Heartwrenching, April 12, 2014
Originally posted at [...]

I seriously had to put this book down so many times. Not because I didn’t like it but because it affected me so much. Don’t Breathe a Word focuses on two topics (abuse and homelessness) that are so hard to read about and are unfortunately a big part of today’s culture.

Joy aka Triste was extremely relatable, which made it very hard to read the book. You could feel every emotion that went through her. It was really amazing writing. Cudos to Ms. Cupala.

I also have to say, as someone with asthma, that Cupala definitely nailed what it was like to have asthma. Always wondering what would happen if you ran out of medicine. Always wondering if it was safe to do this or safe to do that. It’s pretty scary and I couldn’t imagine how it would be for me, personally, if I had to live on the streets not knowing if I would be able to get an inhaler.

Don’t Breathe a Word is a very depressing book, it definitely hits you right in the feels and teaches you that you can find hope in new ways. It’s not always the right way. But if you can find that one ray of sunshine through the downpour then there must be a whole rainbow somewhere. It really is unique; I’ve never read anything like it before. Sure, there are books about abuse but never the aftermath of it and then Triste living on the streets. It takes you down this road that is rarely traveled and it was beautiful. Don’t Breathe a Word is all about finding yourself, finding your inner courage, finding a voice.

Beautifully written, you’re right there with Triste, Creed, Santos, and May. You feel for every character that you’re introduced to, and makes you think twice about all the people you might see the next time you venture into a city.

It was so dark that I thought I would never see a light at the end of the tunnel but I knew I just had to keep reading. Eventually, I found it and I was not disappointed. I did, however, find the end to be a bit rushed and wanted a little bit more explanation in the last twenty or so pages of the book.

All in all, Don’t Breathe a Word was heartbreaking and heartwarming, it was a culture shock and makes you feel really grateful for what you have in life.

If you enjoy gritty contemporary books then you should definitely pick up Don’t Breathe a Word.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Ehhhh..., February 26, 2014
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This review is from: Don't Breathe a Word (Paperback)
This book had a nice ending, but I'm not sure it was worth all the heartache it took to get there.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and emotional, character driven contemporary., April 21, 2013
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This review is from: Don't Breathe a Word (Paperback)
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener, April 20, 2013
This was a hard book to read. So much abuse but with a good ending. Makes you think most in this situation do not get a happy ending. Heartbreaking tale but worth the read.
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Don't Breathe a Word
Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala (Paperback - January 3, 2012)
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