Holly Cupala has done it again. Two years ago I was super impressed by her debut novel, Tell Me a Secret. This year I am even more impressed with her sophomore novel, Don’t Breathe a Word. Holly Cupala writes YA contemporary with an edge and I adore it. Joy starts out seeming a bit like a spoiled kid who has everything in life handed to her. It’s partly because she is so sheltered because of her asthma but she really doesn’t seem to know how to survive on her own. Taking to the streets seems to be a bit of an overreaction on her part but as the book goes on it’s easier to see how she might think it’s a good idea. She’s a smart girl who’s very brave and strong but it takes a lot to make her realize that about herself. I started out feeling sorry for her but that quickly changed and I grew to love her and my whole view of her changed. By the end of the book she was fierce, strong, and pretty much a completely different person than when she first left home. Being on the streets forced her to see things about herself that were there all along but that she just couldn’t see.Creed, May, and Santos are the characters that really made this book for me. It’s been a long time since I loved characters as much as I loved these three. Creed is the white knight, the protector, the one who feels like he has to take care of everyone. May is the badass, the troublemaker, the one who doesn’t need anyone. Santos is the mystery, the kind one, the one who has quite a few secrets. They don’t seem at all like a group that would end up together but they do. They balance each other out and they are always there for each other. They describe each other as family and they truly are. Joy isn’t exactly easily accepted into their group but she does eventually become part of that family. And let me just say, some of the trials they put her through are quite hilarious. Oh and hey there’s a ferret named Faulkner. I loved him!The story is remarkably fast-paced and the book is impossible to put down. From the moment Joy runs away from home her life changes and she finds danger, drama, and even some romance while living on the streets. As she gets to know more people out on the streets she learns more and more about secrets that her new friends are hiding and nothing is ever as it seems. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out everyone’s secrets and whether or not any of them would get their happy endings. While everything is pretty well tied up with this one I would love to read a companion novel more about Santos and May. I didn’t get nearly enough of them for my liking! And you know, I wouldn’t mind more of Creed and Joy.Warning: I would recommend this one for older teens though because it does touch on some topics like prostitution, abuse, and drugs. Overall, Don’t Breathe a Word is a must-read for fans of contemporary. Holly Cupala is a fabulous writer and I am eager to see what she does next!