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What Unbreakable Looks Like
Cover of What Unbreakable Looks Like
What Unbreakable Looks Like
A Novel
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"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...
"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...
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Description-

  • "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
    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.

About the Author-

  • KATE MCLAUGHLIN grew up in rural Nova Scotia with only her imagination and the Bay of Fundy to keep her entertained. That imagination was encouraged by her mother, and Kate began writing at age eight. She's published more than 50 books under different pen names, including What Unbreakable Looks Like, Daughter, and Pieces of Me. She, her husband Steve, and her four fur-kids live in Connecticut.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2020
    A trafficked teen readjusts to the outside world after her rescue. At the motel, she was Poppy, but now she has to find her way back to being Alexa "Lex" Grace. Although Lex's stable and loving aunt, Krys, and uncle, Jamal, take her in, she makes supportive friends, and even adopts an adorable puppy, the voice in her head tells her she isn't worthy of it all, and she struggles with trust. Plus, her pimp is still out there, so she knows she's not truly safe. Lex starts dating Mike, who uses her for sex, which is what feels normal for her. Things go too far when Mike and his friends corner Lex in a school bathroom and sexually assault her. With the support of her aunt and uncle and a couple of new friends, Lex learns to value her self-worth and speak up. This story of resilience and recovery is gritty and heavy but ultimately hopeful. Lex's first-person narration is straightforward and authentic. Frank discussions of rape, drugs, and abuse can be hard to stomach but are not overly graphic. Lex's story ends well, but it's made clear that, unfortunately, she is an exception. Other girls she knows return to prostitution and drugs, with grave consequences. Lex and her aunt are white, and her uncle is black; other secondary characters are racially diverse, and one new friend is gay. A gut-punch story with an uplifting ending. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from June 1, 2020
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* At 17, Poppy is one of Mitch's flowers, whom he keeps at a motel and sells for sex on a secret website. When rescued from a life as a trafficked teen, Poppy has a choice: escape the hospital where she's recuperating or live with her aunt and uncle, who want to help her become Alexa?Lex?again. She chooses her family and begins the difficult journey to recovery. She makes friends who are supportive, but trust remains an issue, and obstacles impede her pathway. For every step forward, Poppy reminds Lex that she doesn't deserve anything good in her life. At school, she is sexually assaulted by the boy she's dating and his friends. She's also afraid that her pimp will learn where she lives and kidnap or kill her. Lex's protracted progress is heartrending and moving, but with her support system's constant love and reassurance, she gains internal strength and finds her voice. As a narrator, Lex is frank and reliable. Her history is one of manipulation and exploitation, but eventually her story becomes one of hope and confidence. Drugs, physical abuse, rape, and death appear through the story and are tough to absorb; however, graphic depictions are avoided. This shines a light on a little-talked-about topic that involves teens.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • Booklist (Starred Review) "This shines a light on a little-talked-about topic that involves teens."
  • Kirkus "This story of resilience and recovery is gritty and heavy but ultimately hopeful... A gut-punch story with an uplifting ending."
  • The Nerd Daily "[A] beautiful insight into what it means to heal and have hope. ...If you are wanting a heartwarming, heartbreaking, inspiring, and hard hitting story, I would definitely recommend you pick this book up."
  • Young Adult Books Central "Gritty and moving, What Unbreakable Looks Like is a compelling story about recovery and the problem of human trafficking that persists today."
  • Liz Coley, author of international bestseller Pretty Girl-13 "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."
  • Christa Desir, author, advocate, and founding member of The Voices and Faces Project "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."

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    St. Martin's Publishing Group
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Kate McLaughlin
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