Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 03 Jan 2012
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Place(s) Traveled to: Seattle, Washington
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
First Line: Slyt. Slyt. Sliding metal cut through stillness, spiraling ribbons of hair into the sink.
The first chapter of Don’t Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala hooked me. I found it utterly haunting and I couldn’t wait to dive deeper into this book. And for the first half of this book I was really engaged with Joy’s past and the events that lead up to her running away. But then something just started to falter for me with this book and I really can’t put my finger on it.
I’m just not sure that I ever totally bought Joy as a homeless runaway. Or that the other kids that she hooked up with were real. In some ways they all just seemed like stereotypes of the hodge podge mix that one might find in the homeless teen community. I also never really felt the tension that I think I was supposed to feel when it came to Joy and her abusive boyfriend. Not to mention how I thought it was a bit creepy that he seemed so much older than her and everyone around her just seemed to smile and think it so cute how he just ‘wanted to take care of her.’
Don’t Breathe a Word is one of those books that has parents…and yet it doesn’t. There is an attempt to make them seem like caring and involved people but that never really comes across. They never really seem to listen or really see Joy and what she is going through. Instead they just push her into a situation that she is trying to get out of. No wonder she feels a bit trapped and wants to run away.
There were moments where I found the book to be gritty and raw like I was supposed to. And I feel that it is important to discuss the real life issues of runaway teens and some of the dangers that they face on the streets. Don’t Breathe a Word touches upon all of that but part of me kind of wishes that Cupala had gone deeper. I also had an issue with the ending. It was just too quick and too easy and way too HEA and killed the realism that I was holding onto tenuously. This was a quick read for me and I don’t feel that my time was wasted…I just wanted something more.