Reviewed by Grace Soledad

Don’t Breathe a Word is the gripping story of a teenage runaway. Joy is tired of being suffocated by her parents and her boyfriend. Due to her intense asthma, her parents hover around her, terrified that if they leave her alone, she could have an attack. Asher, her boyfriend, is abusive. Controlling and not above blackmail, he lets his jealousy taint his decisions.

When Asher goes too far, Joy can’t take it anymore. She sets a trail in her room, making it look like she was kidnapped, and runs away to Seattle. In Seattle, she looks for a boy who witnessed Asher’s possessive nature. She is counting on the fact that he offered her help if she ever needed any.

On the streets, Joy learns to survive. Changing her name to “Triste”, she goes on a hunt for the boy. When they meet, everything falls into place. Joy finally has a family, a way of surviving, freedom. She learns how to find her way on the streets and avoid detection.

When her past threatens to catch up with her, Joy has to figure out how to keep her worlds from colliding, and how far she will go to keep things the way they are.

Don’t Breathe a Word left me breathless. Holly Cupala’s writing was seemingly effortless, beautiful and broken at the same time. She perfectly conveyed the hard life of a runaway, the lingering afteraffects of abuse, and the connections of family in this great novel. By “family”, I mean the ragtag group of runaways that Joy finds herself tethered to. Each is different, ran away for a different reason, and does their part to contribute to the group. As they take her under their wing, Joy discovers both the good and the bad of the streets.

Don’t Breathe a Word was the perfect combination of humor, raw emotions and romance. Cupala’s definitely knows how to play with the readers’ heartstrings and reluctant, as well as seasoned YA readers, are likely to love this book.

Rating: 5/5

Grace Soledad is a teenage bibliophile who runs the blog Words Like Silver. She is described as “antisocial” because she constantly has her nose buried in a book or a notebook. When not reading, she can be found dancing, writing, or at the beach.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperTeen. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.