Title: The Protected
Author: Claire Zorn
Genre: YA contemporary
Length: 264 pages
Published by: UQP (University of Queensland Press)
Published on: July 23rd 2014
Source: received in exchange for review (THANK YOU UQP)
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 is my second five-star book by Claire Zorn. Just so you know.
And it was sad. Oh, it was so sad. Throughout the book we get flashbacks to what happened before Katie’s death (Katie is our main character’s sister). Basically, Hannah was bullied – horribly. These moments are told in such detail that I wanted to cry. Seriously, teenagers suck. (said the teenager) I just can’t comprehend how this type of thing happens, how people can be so awful that they make someone else’s life miserable.
At my school, bullying isn’t so much of a problem as it might be elsewhere. That’s because it’s a nerd school and everyone’s too busy being a nerd to bully each other. Not that it’s non-existent. Wherever there are teenagers there is bullying, and it makes me so sad. And Claire Zorn writes these incidents with incredible voice, amazing description, so that I felt like I was looking at the incident.
But then we have Josh.
Don’t understand the GIF? Good, I’m going to explain it.
Josh calls Hannah “Jane,” like from Jane Eyre, because she’s quite serious and doesn’t say much (understandable…I mean, her sister’s just died). But Josh doesn’t give up on Hannah. He also provides a much-needed dose of comic relief, because he is HILARIOUS. Absolutely witty and very funny, all throughout the book. He can also be serious, and his friendship with Hannah was one of my favourite parts of the book. The blurb might lead you to think that it’s a romance, but it is first and foremost a tentative friendship.
Then there were Hannah’s confused thoughts about Katie. She could EASILY have seemed unlikeable, because even though of course she wants Katie’s back, there’s no denying that after her death, the bullying has stopped. And, like…that’s pretty confusing. That’s an awful set of circumstances to be in.
Also, DING DING DING, we have actual parents involved.
Isn’t that just amazing? I love when there are parents who feel real and involved within the lives of their kids – parents that aren’t missing or flat. These parents were developed, and the mother in particular existed in her own right – she’s depressed and hasn’t left the house since the death of Katie. The lovely neighbour keeps trying to get her out of the house, though, usually by giving them cake (the type of cake is called boterkoek, and yes, I am impressed that I remembered the name). Here it is:
(I really want some)
I’ve said a lot about this book already, but I’d just like to end by saying that the setting is excellent (because it’s where I live). Well, sort of. It’s set in the Blue Mountains but some takes place in Penrith, my place of residence (no asking for addresses, that’s weird). The book referenced the antagonism between Blue Mountains people and Penrith people, which is so true by the way. It’s only the second time I’ve seen where I live in an actual book – the first was The Last Girl by Michael Adams.
In conclusion, this book is worthy of every single star I gave it. Sad, moving and with a tentative friendship at its heart, The Protected will tear your heart to pieces and glue them back together again.
And I adored every word.