I’m pretty sure sophomore slump isn’t in Holly Cupala’s vocabulary, as her sophomore novel Don’t Breathe A Word hits it right out of the ball park. Don’t Breathe A Word simultaneously slayed me and uplifted me, much the same way as books by Courtney Summers and Lauren Oliver. I felt Cupala did a bang up job wrenching my heart with this incredibly emotional, moving story.
Joy Delamere can’t breathe. Literally. She has severe asthma. I didn’t actually know people still had asthma past the age of 12, but apparently it’s true. Joy as a character is incredibly passive. She’s on this strict medical regimen and always believed she needed people to care for her which is why she dates Asher, this mysterious guy who is very powerful and mysterious. Who, FYI, is so emotionally controlling and manipulative that the only way Joy feels she can leave him is by faking a kidnapping and running away to live on the streets of Seattle. It’s not easy, obviously or lots of rap songs wouldn’t exist, but the friends Joy makes teach her to survive and form a surrogate family.
I thought Cupala did a fantastic job portraying themes of power and control in a relationship within Don’t Breathe A Word. There’s a point where joy questions if it’s abuse because what Asher does is not physical. And I can’t help but want to shake Cupala’s hand for writing this scene because that is what abusers do. They make the victim think it’s their fault, that emotional abuse isn’t a big deal. They make it seem like since there’s no hitting it’s not as serious. But it can cause the same emotional scars and damage. Abuse is abuse no matter the form and I absolutely applaud Holly Cupala for illustrating this.
I just loved reading Joy’s journey from victim to survivor. I loved her ultimate transformation. I love that she retained this level of kindness. Normally Joy Delamere is the type of character who I hate, but readers, I loved her realism as an unsure girl who had her self-confidence verbally beaten out of her. She’s a character I love because she kind of represented hope, or at least that’s how I saw her. AND okay, so she sucks at living on the streets at first, but you guys she’s from the suburbs, and I’m pretty sure I would blow at being homeless too. But anyways, Joy has been through hell, but she’s managed to come back, which hello, perfect example of why we need these books on the shelves for teenagers, to show that they through can make it out of hell. #YASaves.
Okay, and I think I would do this review a real disservice if I didn’t mention Creed. And yes, I totally pictured Creed from The Office every time I read his name because I’m addicted to that show. Anyways, Creed is awesome and kind and good and a musician. He deeply cares for his street family and obviously he’s on the street because his past ain’t so hot. I guess I just really liked him as a character because he’s not a douche and came across as really self-assured.
If you are looking to have your heart shattered and patched together again, read Don’t Breathe A Word.
Disclosure: Received for review.
Other Reviews of Don’t Breathe A Word by Holly Cupala:
Pre-Order Don’t Breathe A Word for ONLY $7.99 here. It releases January 3, 2012, but I’m reviewing it today because it’s Just Contemporary month and I read it already. /derail. The link will take you to Amazon where I’m totally an associate, just wanted to fully disclose that.