Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
My take: 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.