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I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old.
Hannah's world is in pieces and she doesn't need the school counsellor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn't have problems?
Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn't afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?
In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl's struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.
This book...this book wasnt just about the struggle of a girl who had lost her sister. This book was about a Bullied young girl just kept losing and losing until she gave up trying to gain. Its only when someone takes a true interest in her that she begins to find her place. She stands up to her parents. She fights for Who she wants to be not who everyone else wants her to be. This book has inspired me and thats all a writer should ever aspires for, to inspire someone with their book. The author of this book, Claire Zorn, has written a truly beatiful book that isnt sheilded and lessened by the untruths that its your typical fairy tail, this book expresses the struggle of school and making friends when you aren't the most charastmatic person in the world. Thankyou Ms Zorn!
“I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old.”
Set in the Blue Mountains the story is written from the perspective of fifteen year old Hannah Mccann, a shy introverted sort of girl who is still recovering from the relentless bullying she has experienced at school and the loss of her older sister Katie who died in a car crash a year ago. Her mum is yet to find happiness and her dad is becoming more and more distant. After a series of psychologists Hannah meets the quirky and eccentric Anne, the school counsellor and Josh, the misunderstood bad boy, who both in their own ways guide her through her grief.
Claire Zorn has a real talent for writing in the teen perspective. She understands hardships that are faced by adolescents but also knows how to write about these issues with tact and sensitivity. The characters themselves were so authentic they almost seemed real. Zorn dives into heavy themes of death, guilt, bullying and broken families without being melodramatic which is usually the common flaw in most modern YA novels. The novel flows back and forth from when Katie was still alive to the present day. This was able to give the reader an opportunity to forge their own opinion of Katie, not just to see her as the beloved dead sister. We see that the relationship between Hannah and Katie was much more complicated than what was originally posed. Katie is wild, outgoing and popular while Hannah is more sensible, and serene. During high school, Katie wasn’t the caring older sister she was meant to be, letting her sister become the victim of torment in order to keep her place in the teen social hierarchy. This adds to Hannah’s sense of guilt, her relationship with Katie will always be a problem she will never be fix.
Josh, the secondary character is one of the least expected characters to befriend Hannah. Firstly he’s talkative, impulsive and a bit of a bigmouth but he proves to be a sweet down to earth sort of guy. In fact, Josh and Katie turn out to have much more in common than you’d orginally think. They are both bystanders in their parents strained or broken marriages while left to rely on themselves. Josh is posed not only as a good friend but as a possible love interest as well. However Zorn refuses to make this the central theme of her novel. Its not another conventional boy saves girl scenario but about how you and the people around you can help you overcome tragic circumstances.
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The Protected could perhaps be my favourite book of 2015. I had never heard of Claire Zorn before The Protected, but now I have a new author to add to my list of "Best Authors of All Time". And after only one book. That's impressive.
The Protected looks like your typical YA book. Bright cover, interesting name, nice big font with the silhouette of a walking girl on her phone. But look beyond the bright lights and you begin to see something else.
Claire Zorn has real skill. It takes finesse and subtle expertise to write a book like The Protected and Zorn has really exercised her writing prowess. And this is only her second published book. Let me explain.
At the start, we already know that Katie dies. It says so on the blurb. It says so in the very first paragraph. It's the whole driving point of the novel. This means that you should be prepared for Katie's death. That it shouldn't be a shock. That it shouldn't be sad... right? NOT.
The Protected is written in segments of the present and the past, and we leap from the gloomy, dreary, Katie-less present, to the sometimes equally gloomy, dreary but Katie-full past. Each segment of past strengthens the relationship the reader has with Katie, only to destroy that relationship when you remember that she dies, when it goes into the present again. Is it possible to make a character and then kill her in the space of a single page while still breaking the reader's heart? And then do it all again in another page? Apparently so.
The McCann family are torn apart by Katie's death. Mum becomes reclusive and depressed, sleeping long hours and only waking up to eat (and even then, she doesn't really eat) and sort out the bills. She talks very little and almost ignores the fact that she has a second daughter. Dad is injured from the accident that killed Katie, and when Mum blames Dad for Katie's death, the relationship between Hannah's parents is strained at best.
Hannah, Katie's sister, has had to deal with torturous bullying for several years, before Katie died. After Katie dies, the bullying stops. She stops talking to people and people stop talking to her. She starts seeing psychologists, therapists, counsellors, but none of them really help until she meets the slightly quirky and down to earth school counsellor, Anne.
With the help of the people around her, like her confronting yet understanding neighbour, Mrs Van, and the popular, mysterious guy at school, Josh, who seems to have taken a likening to her, Hannah finally manages to crack open the shell that is her life.
In conclusion, I really feel like The Protected has no real flaw to point out. With all the dark and depressing themes (e.g. death, grief, depression, bullying) it is definitely a novel for the slightly older reader. Don't read if you don't like depressing books that will make you cry, but please do if you don't mind that kind of stuff.
The struggles of the average teenager (i.e. myself) are put into stark contrast by books like The Protected by Claire Zorn, where the experiences of death, grief and severe bullying are all piled into the harrowing life of Hannah McCann. A girl who (among other things) has experienced severe bullying and the death of her older sister Katie, Hannah is struggling to come to terms with everything that has happened and the mess that her family has become.
The Protected deals with some of the biggest issues facing young adults today; bullying the most prominent. I especially loved the realism of Hannah's bullying. Although I do not often see the severity of harassment and abuse that Hannah faced in the book, I have seen it in the past happen to my peers simply because they're different or are struggling mentally or academically. The way in which Zorn interprets the struggles of youth today is sharply reminiscent of what I myself have witnessed and can easily be imagined to happen in real life. This is unsurprising, as in The Sky So Heavy (Zorn's debut novel) the fight of Fin and his friends to survive a nuclear winter terrified me, as a weapons testing gone wrong could easily ravage our world as it did in her dystopian debut.
Another thing I loved about the book was the introduction of Josh, a boy who has recently moved from a neighbouring high school who has taken an interest in Hannah despite all he hears from those who without reason despise her. It is quite clear to readers that Josh and Hannah could someday form a relationship, but Hannah's current situation doesn't really allow for that, and she cannot yet open herself up to that kind of trust and commitment. Their friendship doesn't quickly spur into a bubbling romance like other YA novels and though I came to love Josh (Is he real??? I'll take 12!) I was very glad that he didn't save Hannah, she saved herself.
Set in the Blue Mountains, a beautiful region an hours drive inland from Sydney, the story focuses on the lush green surrounds. I particularly loved how the region was contrasted with neighbouring Penrith and explored the rivalry between people from both areas and how Zorn talked about how their are different types of people in the region in the opening pages of the story. It reminded me of similar rivalries in my home, the Mornington Peninsula.