Category Archives: Kate McLaughlin

Review: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin

Title: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Suspense
Length: 334 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a thrilling YA novel about trying to right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.

Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known—until she does.

When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice—go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.


Daughter by Kate McLaughlin is a brilliantly clever young adult novel.

Seventeen-year-old Scarlet Murphy is an excellent student who chafes against her mom Gina’s strict rules.  Scarlet suffers from anxiety and sometimes turns to unhealthy ways to manage it. But when the FBI shows up on their doorstep, her typical worries fly in the face of discovering the truth her mother has been keeping from her. Scarlet is the daughter of prolific serial killer Jeffrey Lake and her mom was married to him while he was actively kidnapping and murdering young women. Lake has been on death row for several years and now that he is dying, he will only reveal the names and locations of his other victims to Scarlet. Wrestling with her conscience, Scarlet decides to meet with him so the families of the victims can put their loved ones to rest. But does Lake have any intention of living up to his end of their bargain?

Scarlet’s horrifying visits with her father are juxtaposed against her introduction to grandparents and other family members. Despite her anger at her mother for keeping her past a secret, she relies on Gina’s support after Lake’s vile revelations. Scarlet is grateful for her new friendships with FBI Agent Andy Logan’s kids, Darcy and Luke. Agent Logan also gives her advice that help provide a new perspective on the secrets she has recently learned.

Daughter is an engrossing young adult that is very suspenseful. Scarlet grows and evolves throughout her sometimes-contentious meetings with Lake. She is also more understanding of her mother’s past behavior while also being a little angry about Gina’s deception. Lake is a thoroughly reprehensible man who is not to be trusted under any circumstances. Kate McLaughlin brings this thought-provoking novel to an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion. Recommended for older teen and adult readers.

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Filed under Contemporary, Daughter, Kate McLaughlin, Rated B, Review, Suspense, Wednesday Books, Young Adult

Review: What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin

Title: What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


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.


What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin is a poignant young adult novel of healing.

Groomed by Mitch, a friend of her alcoholic mother, Alexa “Lex” Grace becomes a victim of trafficking. With her name changed to Poppy, she endures horrific abuse made bearable by the drugs supplied by Mitch. Knowing all too well how difficult it is to adjust to their new circumstances, she takes newcomer Jaime (who is renamed Ivy) under her wing. When the police raid the motel where they live and work from, Poppy and Ivy are taken to the hospital where preparations begin for the next phase of their lives. Unfortunately, Ivy returns to Mitch while Poppy eventually goes to live with her Aunt Krys and her husband Jamal Morgan.

Reclaiming her legal name, Lex begins her arduous journey of recovery at a nearby rehabilitation home.  She is not addicted to drugs but she craves the numbness she experiences while under their influence.  Her coping mechanism is indifference as Lex compartmentalizes her experiences. After her time at the home comes to an abrupt end, she moves in Chrys and Jamal where she struggles with trust issues and extremely low self-worth. Lex is often detached with a fatalistic attitude about what she perceives is a precarious new life.

Lex finds a small circle of support with new friends, Elsa and Zack.  Her recovery from what happened to her is slow as she catches up on school work and prepares for her senior year of high school. A fateful decision that exposes her past unexpectedly becomes a turning point in her healing process.  Despite a few missteps and poor choices, Lex finally begins to reflect on her time with Mitch.  With the help of her aunt, Jamal, Elsa and Zack, Lex is truly on the path to recovery.

What Unbreakable Looks Like is a heartrending young adult novel with a complex storyline.  Lex is a multi-faceted teenager with an authentic voice and realistic reactions to what she has endured. The secondary characters are diverse and well-developed. The subject matter is difficult to read but Kate McLaughlin deftly handles these issues with sensitivity. I highly recommend this thought-provoking and surprisingly uplifting novel to older teen and adult readers.

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Filed under Contemporary, Kate McLaughlin, Rated A, Wednesday Books, What Unbreakable Looks Like, Young Adult