Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review: Don't Breathe a Word

Don't Breathe a Word
by Holly Cupala
Published January 3rd 2012 by HarperTeen

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.

-goodreads blurb

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Wow. I like a good fluffy chick-lit as much as the next girl, but from time to time, I love reading a book like this: absolutely raw and emotional (I admit, I got a little emotional towards the end) and addresses some major contemporary problems. You don't normally see a book like this very often and as soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I was going to like it--but boy, I did not expect to like it this much!

This book tackles so many contemporary issues--like, really tough and intense issues--and does it so well that I don't even know where to begin!

Joy has a seemingly great life complete with a rich, popular boyfriend, but looks can be deceiving because the guy, Asher, is a total creep! At the end of the book I seriously wanted to smack him! Their relationship was unhealthy (practically poisonous!) from the start and only spirals downward, but Joy was quite amazing in how strong she was. Normally, when you think of a girl in an abusive relationship, you don't really picture her as being uber strong, but I thought she really was. She put up with his mind games and practically sacrificed herself to protect her family. But when it was finally too much to take, she left, choosing a solution that would not endanger her family. For that, I applaud her. Because really, I certainly wouldn't have had the courage to just give everything up and start living on the streets!

Then, enter Creed, Santos, and May. These guys eventually become a new family for Joy, reborn Triste. I loved every single one of them! Even May. Though it did take some time for me to warm up to her...but the more I got to know her, the more I liked her, especially when I realized how self-sacrificing she was. Santos was lovable to no end and I thought he was so sweet to teach Joy/Triste survival skills on the streets. And, of course, we can't forget about Creed! Loved him! He's the protector of the group who's always looking out for all three of them. His dream is to be a musician and like Joy, he didn't grow up on the streets. He ran away from something bad too and, honestly guys, the two of them are like kindred spirits!

It was so fascinating to read about how people on the streets survive---dumpster-diving, shoplifting, sleeping in abandoned houses or under a bridge (really), and making alliances on the streets, etc.--  and it really opened my eyes. In my opinion, there should definitely be more books like these!

Some people might think that the ending wraps itself up very nicely--a little too nicely. But I'm just going to come right out and say that I, for one, thought it was great. OK, yes, the happy ending isn't exactly reflective of most real-life scenarios, but I like my happy endings goshdarnit!

(but I wouldn't recommend this to young kids due to risky topics such as theft, drug abuse, prostitution, and violence)

"When the worst happens and you still survive, it sets you free from fear."

He had reduced me to ashes.
And now I would rise."

“Maybe that's why he watched over all of us--because of the ones he couldn't protect, he took care of the ones he could.”  

“At home, they'd clipped my wings and then caged me so I couldn't fall. Here, they bandaged one another's broken wings, helped each other fly.”

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