Written by Claire Zorn
Contemporary, Coming of Age, Death
Published July 23rd 2014
Thank you to UQP
Add to 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 counselor 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.
It's been twelve long, lonely months since Katie passed away and Hannah still morns her sister each and every day. Her father is physically broken, and her mother is mentally absent, morning for her eldest daughter and no longer functioning. Katie was the elder of the two sisters, the party girl who her peers respected, followed and very much loved. Hannah has always been seen as a social pariah. As Hannah navigated the world of high school and cliques, she'd believed that her childhood best friend would be by her side. But as the popular girls begun to take an interest in recruiting, Hannah found herself alone once more. Invited to parties as nothing more than a cruel joke, taunted, all while older sister Katie looked the other way. Hannah lost Katie long before she died.
After Katie had passed, the taunting has stopped but replaced by a forlorn pit. Her parents refuse to communicate beyond the required parental concern, and her only friend is that of her newest in a long line of mental health experts, school counselor Anna. Anna sees that Hannah is struggling with panic attacks and a lack of social interaction, but with the court case and her testimony fast approaching, Hannah begins to retreat within herself once more. Her father claims he can't remember and all Hannah knows is that regardless of what her mother believes, the accident was through no fault of his own.
But hope arrives in the guise of Josh, new student, popular and sees that there is more to Hannah than a broken girl in mourning. Despite her best efforts to push Josh away, He won't be swayed, and is determined to get to know the girl that no one else will.
Claire Zorn, you are incredible. I absolutely loved Claire's dystopian, The Sky so Heavy and The Protected is absolutely brilliant. The characters are beautifully intricate, well developed with a raw and realistic quality. Claire allows each narrative to deliver their thoughts with a sassy and sarcastic wit, which is not only clever, but allows the reader to relate and invest in her characters through humour. The Protected follows the same premise, but explores the heartbreak of losing a family member, the breakdown of the family unit who are grieving and learning to live again.
While my heart ached for Hannah, I absolutely adored Josh. Even though he was aware of Hannah's grief, he never felt the need to console or tread lightly around the discussion of Katie's passing. He was a symbol of hope that Hannah was able to use as her anchor, as well as school counselor Anna. Anna was brilliant. A no nonsense woman who Hannah also felt connection to while her world was caving in. While both parents seemingly struggled to live for the daughter that lived, both were too consumed by grief and guilt to worry how Hannah was fairing.
It was an amazing story told in shades of grey, proving that grief is a personal journey to which we all endure individually. Claire Zorn is one of Australia's young adult authors that all authors should take note of. She can captivate an audience, paint us into her world with characters that stay with us long after the final page is read.