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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Free by Lauren McLaughlin - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Isaac learned to steal at a young age. His mother is a drunk who doesn't look after her children and he doesn't know his father. To take care of his younger sister Janelle he had to put food on the table and he made sure she always had nice clothes, but he isn't able to do that now. When he got into a fight at school he was transfered and became part of a car theft team. After a job that went completely wrong Isaac was asked to take the rap for someone else. He thinks this will be the way to make more money for Janelle. He's supposed to spend a month in juvie and after that he'll be able to send his sister to a good private school. Will this plan actually work?

The Haverland Juvenile Detention Facility is a place that scares Isaac. He wants to remain unnoticed, but being part of difficult therapy sessions that force him to act out his crime are making it hard to stay off people's radars. To have a crowd to sit with he joins the computer lab, where he also manages to stand out. Giving up his invisibility is tough, but it's necessary for Isaac to look after his sister. He has to fully open up to protect himself and the person he loves most in the world, will Isaac be able to do this?

The Free is a fantastic impressive story. I was completely blown away by this amazing book. Isaac is a sweet guy who wants to be there for his sister. He's made some grave mistakes and has trouble living with the consequences. Janelle is a smart girl and Isaac wants her to have opportunities. He does everything he can to make life as easy as possible for his sister, but he's messed up. While he's in juvie he can't protect Janelle from their mother and he isn't able to make any money so he can keep her fed and clothed. Janelle is only thirteen years old and Isaac constantly worries about her. I absolutely loved this brotherly love. Isaac's personalty has so many fabulous layers, I loved every single one of them and couldn't turn the pages of The Free quickly enough to find out how it would end.

Lauren McLaughlin has written a brilliant story filled with surprising twists and turns. Nothing in Isaac's life is straightforward. He has to be smart and needs to come up with strategies to survive. He's never safe, hasn't had the luxury of a solid home and has too many responsibilities for a kid his age. He's plotting and planning to keep his sister out of trouble. Lauren McLaughlin describes his worries about Janelle in a gorgeous heartfelt way that made me tear up many times. The Free is an absolute must-read, it's a terrific story about the screwed up life of a very brave teenager. I highly recommend this compelling, poignant book.


If you love impressive YA you don't want to miss The Free.

About Lauren McLaughlin

I grew up in the small town of Wenham, Massachusetts. After college and a brief flirtation with anthropology I spent ten years in the film business as both a screenwriter (Hypercube, Prisoner of Love, Specimen) and producer (American Psycho, Buffalo ’66, Vig, Stag, and others) before turning my attention to novels. I am the author of the teen novels, Cycler, (Re)Cycler, and Scored, as well as the children’s picture book series, Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective. I am currently at work on my fourth novel.


Website // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads


Five very lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of The Free by Lauren McLaughlin.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. The Free sounds like a well written, thoughtful YA novel that gives readers an emotionally powerful look into the lives of a group of incarcerated teens.

  2. I'm glad I never had to spend time in a juvenile detention center--sounds like an intense story!

  3. Intense and interesting - would be a very satisfying read!

  4. This sounds like a great topic.

  5. This is a great sounding book, I would love to read it. lclee59(at)centurylink(dot)net

  6. It sounds like a book that I would not be able to put down.

  7. It sounds like a book with a very interesting plot.

  8. Sounds like a gritty and realistic book.

  9. Isaac is a brother that every girl wishes for. The book sounds like a very sweet read.

  10. i like this one differnt title and then color is great

  11. I'm so excited to read it! Sounds wonderful.

  12. A very interesting topic and I'm sure lots of teenagers would enjoy reading this - I know I would and I'm way past being a teenager. :-)

  13. This looks like a fabulous book!

  14. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Good luck everyone!

  15. Lauren, your book sounds wonderful !

  16. The Free sounds really good. I can't wait to read it.

  17. Kudos to whoever came up with that image on the cover - it's terrific! Actually, it'd make a great tattoo.