“Don’t Breathe a Word” by Holly Cupala

"Don't Breathe A Word" by Holly Cupala
"Don't Breathe A Word" by Holly Cupala

Contemporary fiction and I tend not to get along. I like magic and dragons and fairies that give characters donkey heads. I’ve never been one to really find myself attached to something set in the present.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course.

Holly Cupala’s “Don’t Breathe A Word” is that exception. Joy Delamere drops everything (her family, her friends and most importantly, the abusive Asher) and flees. She lives on the streets of Seattle where she meets a boy named Creed. Creed was kind to Joy once and she can only hope that he might be kind again.

When she finds Creed and his rag-tag band of misfits, she joins them, becoming one of the many homeless living on the streets of Seattle. But being homeless isn’t exactly the easiest way of life, and while she’s been trying to forget about her past, it is trying to snatch her back.

The novel might fall under the category of  heart-wrenching. Even if I didn’t agree with Joy’s decisions, I could see why she made them. As a reader, it was a rollercoaster of a ride to watch her do what she needed to do to survive and to watch all of the characters do what they had to do.

“Don’t Breathe A Word” is an excellent piece of contemporary fiction, but there is only one thing I don’t like about it: the sugar-sweet vanilla happy ending. Nearly kill a character? No, it’s OK, he’s fine! Have a character addicted to drugs and involved in prostitution? She’s suddenly a hairdresser with no other explanation besides just dropping in “Oh hey, she’s a hairdresser now.”

Give me realism or give me dragons! Don’t give me some tossed together happy ending if it doesn’t make sense. There is no magical happy ending in Joy’s world. so, don’t put it where it doesn’t belong. Make the characters work for their ending. Don’t just give it to them and don’t insult your readers by fluffing over the ending. We can handle the truth of what would realistically happen.

Just because one character can have a happy ending doesn’t mean all of them should.