Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin. Thank-you to Meghan Harrington from St. Martin’s Press & Wednesday Books for my invitation to participate in this tour.
Expected publication: June 23rd 2020 by Wednesday Books
Synopsis: 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
“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 are 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
This is not a book I would have picked up on my own, but when I was invited to read and review What Unbreakable Looks Like, I read the synopsis and decided it was important that I find out more about this terrible plight of so many people.
The story is about one survivor of human trafficking, Alexa (Lex). It tells of her struggles, her strength, her despair, her isolation, her self-loathing and finding her strength, her will and her purpose to reclaim her life. We see what she has to deal with trying to move forward, and glimpses of what her life was like while being trafficked. She doesn’t know who to trust, or what they might want in return for being nice to her. She doesn’t think she is worthy of love and is always ready to be kicked out, or thrown into the streets. The way she is treated at her school was terrible. I found myself crying more than once while I read this story. So much she endured broke my heart and made me angry. Learning how their pimps or handlers groomed these young girls until they were basically brainwashed and held prisoner in disgusting surroundings hurt my heart and soul.
Kate McLaughlin tackled an extremely tough topic, yet handled it in such a way that the message was clear, without the explicit descriptions. The many victims/survivors of trafficking need acceptance and care if they are to move forward in their lives and the author did an admirable job of showing how that can be done. Lex was lucky, she had a family member willing to take her in and support her, all victims are not that lucky and often end up back in the life, commit suicide or are murdered.
This is a YA book, but certainly is one that adults would get much from as well. If this book helps someone avoid being trafficked or convinces a family member to step in and support someone, then that is a plus. I certainly had my eyes opened about this issue and it is scary. I thank Kate McLaughlin for her well written story. It was well-researched and while it might not have been explicit in its descriptions, it certainly gets the message across. I want to thank Wednesday Books for my copy of this book. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
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.