Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2255
challenging but compelling read about human trafficking
Overall rating
Writing Style
WHAT UNBREAKABLE LOOKS LIKE is a story of healing after human trafficking. Alexa, who has been called Poppy while under the control of Mitch, has been rescued by the police. She is an underage and unwilling prostitute, subdued by physical violence and drugs. When she is taken to the hospital, her story is not over and everything is not happily ever after.

Her road to recovery is troubled, particularly by the way that others react to her in her daily life. Between the loving care of her aunt and uncle who have taken her in as a daughter and the good friends she makes along the way, Alexa may be able to survive her past and let it make her stronger.

What I loved: The book does a great job of showing how difficult it can be for victims of human trafficking to leave it behind them. They may not always be going home to a safe situation (eg, Alexa's mother's husband was involved in her being taken) and they may not have the social support (therapy, loved ones, friends) to help them recover. The book shows the paths they may take in the other girls and the things that Alexa considers herself. It also shows the importance of social support and therapy in aiding the process.

Recovery is difficult and takes a long time. It is hard for the girls to trust men or boys again, and we see this not only through Alexa's eyes but also the other survivors she meets. It felt raw and genuine. The other characters who support her are golden, and it was great to see them also pointing out fallacies in her trained thought process and get some (albeit not great) justice.

This is a challenging read, and I would note that it does talk about drug abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault (both before and after), and human trafficking. These are described (though not in incredible levels of detail, still quite a bit at times), so it would be good for readers to know about these triggers before picking it up.

Final verdict: Gritty and moving, WHAT UNBREAKABLE LOOKS LIKE is a compelling story about recovery and the problem of human trafficking that persists today. This is not by any means a light read, but it does give a lot of hope and imparts a lot of knowledge about trafficking and recovery.
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