From the CBCA-shortlisted author of The Sky So Heavy comes The Protected – a striking young adult novel that deals with the complexities of sibling relationships, the depths of grief, and the horrors of one teenager's high school experiences.
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.
The only thing Hannah McCann ever wanted was to slide through high school unnoticed, without her name graffitied on toilet walls or Facebook hate-pages created in her name. It takes a sudden tragedy for the torment to cease and for Hannah to finally get what she wants.
Her 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. For Claire, the inspiration for The Protected came from a number of interests. She was intrigued by the (sometimes) fraught nature of sibling relationships and the reality that even though you share a gene pool, you don't necessarily understand or like each other.
The story also grew from an interest in how high school communities deal with death. Claire says, -The high school I went to had a student die in every year group but my own. Multiple students had to cope with family tragedies. The result of this was a school community that time and time again had to deal with pain, grief and guilt. It would be lovely to say that these things built a strong, loving and close student community, but the reality was far more complex than that.'
As AJ Betts comments, -The Protected captures the volatility of adolescence, the fragility of family, and the importance of a good friend.' Read The Protected with tissues by your side and be prepared for a story that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
Claire Zorn lives on the south coast of New South Wales with her husband and two small children. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Post Graduate Diploma in writing. Her first young adult novel, The Sky So Heavy, has been shortlisted for the 2014 CBCA Book of the Year – Older Readers and the 2014 Aurealis Awards – Best Young Adult Novel. It has also been longlisted for the 2014 Golden Inky Awards.
Author: Claire Zorn