29 June, 2015

The Protected

From Goodreads: 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.

Thoughts: This is the sixth and the last of the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) shortlisted Older Readers books. 
Another wow. This book had me sobbing. I felt so much for Hannah, for everything that happened before Katie died and everything that followed. She is a girl in a world of pain with no anchor and nothing to cling to. Completely heartbreaking.
Claire Zorn captures the total isolation of someone who is bullied mercilessly. She shows the nastiness of it and the feeling of helplessness experienced by the victim. She then takes it a step further and shows what happens when a tragic event occurs and no one knows how to react. For Hannah the death of her sister meant the bullying stopped, but it also meant the destruction of the family she knew. Nothing is right any more and Hannah can count on no one any more.
What I loved about this is there was no magical transformation. Change came slowly and was difficult. Neither of Hannah's parents had a sudden epiphany about their daughter and became completely present in her life again. The old friend didn't become the saviour and Hannah didn't transform into a beautiful swan after being the ugly duckling. However, by the end of the book things were a little better, a little easier and you could see the light at the end of the tunnel. You were left with the feeling that the events in the book would forever leave a mark on the characters, that this was a life changing time for them and they would never be the same. And that's ok, in fact that is important.
Zorn is an author to watch. I think she will go far in the YA genre.

The Protected gets 4 stars.

 *        Did not like it
**       It was OK
***      Liked it
****    Really liked it
*****   It was amazing