Title: What Unbreakable Looks Like
Author: Kate McLaughlin
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: 23 June 2020
Source: Wednesday Books
Rating: 5 Stars
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.
I'm wary of going into this book because I don't know what to expect. This book seems like it will be one of those that will be hard-hitting and will sit with me for a while. I would advise taking note of the trigger warnings which, as presented on the dedication page, are; depictions of human trafficking, sexual assault and violence.
Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for this book. Just a quick disclaimer for those reading this review, I have received this book for free. Please note that this does not affect my opinions in any way. All thoughts are my own.
The writing in this book is blunt and brutal. It doesn't hide behind fluffy words or sugar-coated sayings. It forces the reader to confront the content of the book head-on. There isn't a lot of dialogue as a majority of the book focuses on Lex's emotions and thought process as she is coming to everything changing around her and the eventual need for her to confront what has happened to her. The dialogue did come off a bit awkward in some parts and there was the use of AAVE which I felt was a bit unnecessary. In the beginning, we have a sense of an unreliable narrator as there is a lack of time and everything is obscured. However, this changes over time and Lex becomes reliable as she gains some form of stability.
The plot was difficult to read. There were multiple moments where I had to stop reading because this isn't something that you can just power through. On several occasions, through Lex, the book helps you to understand what happened to her and the gravity of the situation. The book starts where Lex is found by the police and taken to the hospital. Readers can see the disassociation of what is actually happening and what Lex is thinking due to her unreliability as a narrator. Readers see Lex struggle and push back on the help she receives not only because she doesn't believe she deserves it but also because its not the kind of treatment she is used to.
Lex undergoes major character development from the character we meet in the first couple of chapters to the last couple of chapters. Her journey was not an easy one and there were moments where she sabotaged her success based on her evaluations of what her worth was. One of my favourite things about this book was the support system that Lex had around her but one of the sad things is that this isn't always the reality for many people who are trafficked.
Overall, this book was a tough one to read. Not only was it insightful but it was also impactful. The writing leaves the reader with no choice but to confront what has happened to Lex as there are no words to sugar coat what happened. The plot not only revealed what happened to Lex but also that sexual assault isn't always an operation but can be something more secluded and individual. Lex's character development throughout the book isn't always linear, she has multiple moments where she self-sabotages. This book is raw, harsh in its confrontation but also considerate. Please do be careful when reading this book and take note of the trigger warnings; depictions of human trafficking, sexual assault and violence. Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.
Yours in Reading,