on July 23, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
Why did it take me this long to pick up a Claire Zorn book? The Protected was so fantastic, I read it in one sitting.
The Protected covers really subject matter in a relatable manner that makes us not only emphasise with Hannah and the pain that she is going through, but really understand where she is coming from. Poor Hannah has always been bullied and picked on at school, simply for being her serious self and not caring about boys and fashion. But now that she’s lost her beautiful and popular sister, who was always mean to her anyway, the bullying has stopped. She’s never had an easier time.
Through her accounts to the guidance counsellor, the first person she’s opened up about the accident to, we see how lonely and tormented she felt during her first years of high school. My heart broke for Hannah, as she was constantly bullied and harassed by her peers and alienated by her sister. These past accounts are interchanged with the peace of today’s time, with Hannah slowly overcoming her pain and coming to terms with the trauma.
If I could change one thing, just one, what would I change?
That’s the question that keeps me awake at night. I can’t even be honest with myself. The answer should be so obvious.
What kind of person does that make me?
Despite all of the torment, grief, and guilt Hannah was going through, I really admired her strength of character. She just took everything in stride and never really let it wear her down, even during the toughest times. Hannah delivered a really tough exterior, and even though she let the tears flow behind closed doors, she was really just a misunderstood target. It just goes to show if you get to know people, you’ll find out that they are really lovely people, and Hannah was strong, smart and sharp and anyone would have been lucky to have her as a friend. Regardless of what anyone said or did to her.
Having siblings of my own, I can really appreciate books that really depict realistic sibling relationships, from the happy times to the sad. The Protected highlighted this really well, by showing us two sisters that were polar opposites to one another. While Hannah was the serious, studious one, Katie was the life of the party who was into boys, fashion and parties. The two sisters constantly thought, misunderstood each other, and held grudges, but at the end of the day they still loved each other. I wanted to shout at Katie and tell her to stick up for her sister, but at the end of the day, you can’t choose your siblings, and sometimes they are the meanest.
There would be no end to this. No end. And my knees gave way beneath me and I let myself fold down onto the ground. And if I closed my eyes, curled into a ball, didn’t move, didn’t speak, I wasn’t there at all.
The appearance of Josh, a potential love interest was actually really sweet. He made Hannah feel like it was okay to be herself, that not everyone thinks she’s awful, and finally, to find hope and courage in herself.
I’m proud to say that The Protected is an YA book set in Australia, amongst the Blue Mountains. From the year levels, to the school, and the slang, it was really reminiscent of school in my country and I loved it.
The Protected is a magnificent account of a girl going through the trauma of bullying and dealing with the death of her sister. It’s raw, heart breaking and emotional, and has a really uplifting message to always stay true to yourself and not to bottle all the pain within. This was a really strong contemporary that dealt with the difficult topics and made it relatable and compelling at the same time. It makes me proud of high caliber Aussie YA that everyone can enjoy.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thank you UQP for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels whole again. She will have an answer to her burning question – why did you go? And she will have someone who understands what it means to be a teenager – unlike Nana. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bitter sweet, and Apple wonders who is really looking after whom. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is, that she begins to see things as they really are.
Like a brilliant hybrid of Cathy Cassidy and Jacqueline Wilson, Sarah Crossan entices you into her world, then tells a moving, perceptive and beautifully crafted story which has the power to make you laugh and cry.
This is the first YA book that has literally taken me back to school – and not in a good way.
Reading Apple & Rain feels like you’re back in English class again. From the class discussions, to the method of teaching, to their homework and what Apple writes as drafts, it’s all there. Yes I enjoyed the English subject back in the day – but I don’t want to relive it, much less read about it and in this much detail. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for current high school students.
Aside from the long verses of poems and drafts of English homework, I actually felt like the writing was quite simplistic and young. The subject matter is also quite disturbing, about a terrible parent who abandons her child for an acting career, and then returns and takes advantage of her need for approval. I appreciated the focus on a parent’s behaviour in a genre filled with absent parents, but Apple’s mother was a sorry excuse for one. Abandonment, irresponsible behaviour, expecting your child to skip school and be a babysitter/maid and letting them drink, it’s all here.
The truth is I have no idea where Mum is right now or what she’s doing. The only acting part she definitely has is a small role in a play and that doesn’t start until next week. And then I realise she has no idea where we are or what we’re doing either. Would she care if she knew we’d spent the afternoon gambling on fruit machines?
The other sad and disturbing part of Apple & Rain was about Rain’s psychological issues and how she treats a baby doll like a real person. She carries Jenny around and feeds her, talks to her like a real child, and you could pretty much see affects of abandonment on Rain at 10 years old. Other from that, there’s also bullying and how Apple deals with it at school. Is there anything to be happy about in this book?
Well, there is Del, but the only thing memorable about him is how he spies on his neighbours with his binoculars, and how he helps Apple out especially with Rain. It was cute, but it wasn’t enough to detract from the rest of the horrible things in the story. Apple’s Nanna is probably the nicest character in the book who really cares for her enough – and I hated seeing her being cast aside.
Rain looks up then quickly gets back to cutting out pictures. But the brief, sad glance is unmistakable: it’s the look of a daughter desperate for her mum to love her the best.
Yes this was a sad and emotionally draining book, but I wish there was a satisfactory conclusion to it or a lesson behind it all. It seemed like everything was sad, serious and dreary, and there wasn’t enough light at the end of the tunnel for me. I don’t always need a happy ending, but I need a story to be told for a reason. And the reason here, seemed to be to showcase Mr Gaydon’s wonderful English lessons.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
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