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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
What Unbreakable Looks Like

What Unbreakable Looks Like

A Novel

Kate McLaughlin

Wednesday Books

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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 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.

chapter one


Clean sheets. That’s what I’m dreaming about when something wakes me up. I groan, swearing. Sleep is the only time I have to myself—the only time I’m free from the motel and the other girls in it. The...

Praise for What Unbreakable Looks Like

Book Riot, "The Ultimate Guide to Spring 2020 YA Books for Your TBR"

Culturess, "13 must-read June YA book releases to start your summer off right"

"This shines a light on a little-talked-about topic that involves teens." - Booklist (Starred Review)

"This story of resilience and recovery is gritty and heavy but ultimately hopeful... A gut-punch story with an uplifting ending." - Kirkus

"[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." - The Nerd Daily

"Gritty and moving, What Unbreakable Looks Like is a compelling story about recovery and the problem of human trafficking that persists today." - Young Adult Books Central

"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, advoc… More…

Book Riot, "The Ultimate Guide to Spring 2020 YA Books for Your TBR"

Culturess, "13 must-read June YA book releases to start your summer off right"

"This shines a light on a little-talked-about topic that involves teens." - Booklist (Starred Review)

"This story of resilience and recovery is gritty and heavy but ultimately hopeful... A gut-punch story with an uplifting ending." - Kirkus

"[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." - The Nerd Daily

"Gritty and moving, What Unbreakable Looks Like is a compelling story about recovery and the problem of human trafficking that persists today." - Young Adult Books Central

"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

- Less…

Reviews from Goodreads

Kate McLaughlin

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.

image of Kate McLaughlino
Kate McLaughlin

Kate McLaughlin

Meet the Author

July 14, 2020

Join Kate McLaughlin for a virtual discussion of her powerful young adult novel about human trafficking and recovering from trauma, What Unbreakable Looks Like.

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