Title: What Unbreakable Looks Like
Author: Kate McLaughlin
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Lex was taken–trafficked–and now she’s Poppy. Kept in a hotel with other girls, her old life is a distant memory. But when the girls are rescued, she doesn’t quite know how to be Lex again.
After she moves in with her aunt and uncle, for the first time in a long time, she knows what it is to feel truly safe. Except, she doesn’t trust it. Doesn’t trust her new home. Doesn’t trust her new friend. Doesn’t trust her new life. Instead she trusts what she shouldn’t because that’s what feels right. She doesn’t deserve good things.
But when she is sexually assaulted by her so-called boyfriend and his friends, Lex is forced to reckon with what happened to her and that just because she is used to it, doesn’t mean it is okay. She’s thrust into the limelight and realizes she has the power to help others. But first she’ll have to confront the monsters of her past with the help of her family, friends, and a new love.
Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like is a gritty, ultimately hopeful novel about human trafficking through the lens of a girl who has escaped the life and learned to trust, not only others, but in herself.
“With unflinching honesty, What Unbreakable Looks Like exposes the injuries and scars we wear on our skins or in our souls. Hidden damage is tragically common, but helpful others who dared embrace hope invite Alexa to step onto the healing path. This novel may offer a springboard for a reader’s own healing or foster empathy for life’s walking wounded.” – Liz Coley, author of international bestseller Pretty Girl-13
“Raw, unflinching, and authentic, Kate McLaughlin’s thoughtful What Unbreakable Looks Like carefully crafts a story exposing the vulnerability of underage trafficked girls and what it takes to begin the process of healing from sexual trauma.” – Christa Desir, author, advocate, and founding member of The Voices and Faces Project
“This is a powerful book about a sobering topic that I found myself thinking about for days after I completed it. It is wonderfully poignant, painfully real, and even laugh out loud funny at times. Not everyone can truly wrap their minds around the trauma these victims endure and yet somehow, despite all of it, are still just regular kids. But Kate McLaughlin gets it. ‘Lex’ is truly what unbreakable looks like and you’ll fall in love with her spirit.” – Tanya Compagnone, Trooper First Class
“Sex trafficking continues to seep into all our communities. In this novel, Kate McLaughlin brings to life the trauma that transpires in youth who forced into the life of sex trafficking. Her novel is a reminder that each of us can make a difference in someone’s life.” – Dina R. St. George, MSW, Juvenile Re-Entry Unit OCPD
About the Author
KATE McLAUGHLIN likes people, so much so that she spends her days making up her own. She likes writing about characters who are bent, but not broken – people who find their internal strength through friends, strife and sometimes humor. When she’s not writing, she likes studying people, both real and fictional. She also likes playing board games with friends, talking and discovering new music. A proud Nova Scotian, she’ll gladly tell you all about the highest tides in the world, the magical creation known as a donair, and people who have sofas in their kitchens. Currently, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and four cats. She’s the author of What Unbreakable Looks Like.
Much thanks to Meghan from Wednesday Books / St. Martin’s Press for sending me a copy for review and for inviting me to be a part of this tour. This review is voluntary and opinions are fully my own.
📚 Series? No.
📚 Genre? YA Contemporary Fiction
📚 POV? First person.
📚 Cliffhanger? No.
⚠ Content Warnings: Human Trafficking, Rape, Drug Use, Suicide, Child Pornography, Mental Health, Violence, Self Harm, Domestic Violence
The book is about:
What Unbreakable Looks Like is a story about going through the worst things in life and the journey to moving on and recovery. Lex became a victim of human trafficking when a friend of her mother took her and stuck her in a hotel to do sexual favors for strangers. The motel got raided and she gets rescued by the police. This story is told through the mind of Alexa/Lex and how she processes her pain and her past while dealing with her present and finding the chance of healing.
What drew me in:
I had doubts about going through reading What Unbreakable Looks Like when Meghan from Wednesday Books reached out to me. It’s because when I read the blurb, I know that this book will hit quite hard. Despite this fact, I took on the chance to read this story because this is not one that we hear everyday. Human trafficking is very real and it happens all over the world. This book is a way to spread awareness, especially for young adults, and I was very eager to find out how the author Kate McLaughlin chooses to send the message.
Characters & connections:
The plot of the story is very character-driven. It all revolves around Alexa – her thoughts, her feelings, and her actions. At first, there was not enough introspecting for Lex to deal with her pain. There were lots of denial and it was like she was withdrawn from the scenes within her life and was just a casual observer. However, more of Alexa’s thoughts and emotions were expressed as the story unfolds, making the experience of knowing her even more whole.
On the question if this was an accurate portrayal of a victim of sexual trafficking, I don’t really know. And again, it is important to acknowledge that people react differently to the challenges that life throws at them. This story might be 100% accurate to some, and that would be more than enough reason to tell this story the way it is.
Everything I liked:
Throughout the process of reading this book, I felt my heart clench so many times and that was the best part. It delivered a strong message the way it should be – raw and real. Though it was difficult to keep on reading the triggering content, I have to agree that this book gave us a glimpse at a very important issue that is not often discussed.
If you are someone who can survive all the possible triggers I have mentioned above, you should give this book a chance. It will bring you to a journey that will bring you to a different life perspective – possibly, give you hope and entice you to help support causes like this one.
My Book Rating Breakdown
🌼 Main Character:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Support Characters:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Writing Style:⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Character Development:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Thrill: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Pacing: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Ending: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Unputdownability: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌼 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
☁ FINAL VERDICT: 4.6/5 ☁
♡ Yna the Mood Reader ♡