I just recently finished the book Protected, by Claire Zorn. It was given to me as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) which essentially means that I got to read it before it was released, so I’m not sure if it has been officially published yet, however this book was an inspiring book that gave you an amazing and heart-wrenching insight into the life of someone who was bullied. This book has 288 pages it’s for ages 12 and up. This book was an easy read, but never the less, it was still thrilling and I highly recommend. Claire Zorn is the winner of the Prime Minister’s Library Award in Young Adult Fiction, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award in Young Adult Fiction, and the CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers. She lives in South Wales with her family and continues to write books that give an insight into the hardships that teens struggle within modern times. Some of the topics that she covered really resonated with me.
I have known people who have been bullied, and even I have been, and some of the things you see Hannah, the main character, go through can be so relatable. It’s strange to see someone so realistic experience such realistic things. I felt connected and that this was somewhat of a journal of someone’s life that I was reading.
In this book, Hannah was a victim of severe bullying. Her sister is an idol, or I mean was an idol. Katie, her sister, was a queen of the school, and Hannah was more of a rodent that people didn’t care about. She had no friends, no hope, and was alone. No one to talk to and no end to the suffering that these tormentors put her through. And then, Katie died. There was no more bullying. She was left alone. It’s almost as if it was put on pause. She didn’t have to feel embarrassed or less than her glowing and important sister. But the pain of those words was carried with her like a chain tied to her foot. And when she finally had the opportunity to have a friend, every signal in her brain told her it’s a trap and that there is no one to trust. If you have felt in any way that you have been mistreated or been to feel less than you are than this is the book for you. The slight undertones of self-love and knowing who you are contributing to a greater understanding of what it means to figure out life and how to rely on yourself and appreciate who you are, completely.
During this book, you really get to know Hannah. I really liked the way she built Hannah. In the beginning of the book, you see this innocent girl. And what shocked me the most was how I reacted to her. On one hand, you see this girl who was a victim and never did anything to harm anyone, and you sympathize, but yet, on the other hand, you see her put herself through hell. I got so angry. I couldn’t understand why she let those people torture, but as I read, I realized that she didn’t know what to do. She had no one to turn to. Her mom didn’t pay attention, her sister resented her, and her one friend dropped her because she was too afraid of the opinions of others. Hannah was caught in a whirlwind and couldn’t see her way out. During the book, I just wanted to be Hannah just so I wouldn’t have to see herself spiral into this world of sadness and hate. And I imagine that the author did that on purpose. She depicted the symbol of innocence and wanted you to feel anger. She wanted you to feel that way, it makes you think, and even towards the end of the book you are so frustrated with the main character, and it never quite goes away, but it does leave you with this uncomfortable aura. I believe that she wanted you to see just how hard it would be if you were put in that decision. She wanted to see that these people who are bullied feel the same way as you do reading it. They want to stand up for themselves but there is this wall in front of them that makes it impossible for them to do so. It was an incredibly good writing technique and it kept me intrigued throughout the story.
What really killed me about this book, was how inconclusive the ending was. If I would have been the author, I would have done it way differently. It almost felt rushed. There were so many loose ends, and I think that is why, as I stated previously, you have this frustration with the main character. What was also strange, is that it did not end in a way that I would imagine it would have a sequel. It just ended abruptly. Hannah never got full justice and you never understand if she trusted Josh, the “sidekick” of Hannah, if you will. When I finished, I literally said, “What?” How could it have ended in such a, quite honestly, terrible way? You want to see Hannah grow and learn, but it almost stops right in the middle of her becoming this person, and while reading, I just wanted to see her grow into a stronger person. But you don’t see that, it just stops. I never got full closure and I had no idea why the author would choose to write it like that. It felt almost, rushed. It ended with a simple sentence, “I do my best not to think about it – I just run to the edge of the rock, squeeze my eyes shut, and let my body drop into the water. (pg. 273)” That wraps up a very small portion of it but it still doesn’t give enough. Nevertheless, the storyline was intriguing and enticing, and so even though the ending didn’t fit my palette, it still was a great book.
I think the thing I appreciate most about this book is how Claire Zorn set up the book. You open up after everything has happened, and slowly you see memories from Hannah’s life. By doing this, the other shows the divide between her life pre- and post- Katie’s death. It shows a contrast in a really great way, but not only that. By showing memories, you understand who she is now much better. Your life makes up who you are, and by showing me a display of her high school life, it gives me an insight to her you wouldn’t normally see in a simple “Character Growth” set up. I enjoyed this much better than just seeing a character grow over time because I get to see who she is in a whole picture. Growing up is so strange and we change who we are so much. We become ourselves, and when you get to see the whole span of her growing up through High School, you really understand her as a person. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.
“If I could change one thing, just one, what would I change? It’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? (pg.179)”
This book is chock filled with phrases that got me thinking, but for some reason, this one stops me the most. While I was reading, I tore a page from my notebook and stuck it there so I would remember this passage for this particular moment, that is writing my letter essay. This is very representative of the character. She is indecisive, undeniably, however, I don’t think most people could answer this question, and yet she still thinks that she is weird. She thinks she is abnormal, but that is not the reason I chose this passage. If you yourself had to change one thing, just what would it be? I can’t quite find an answer. Give myself more money so that I could live anywhere and go to any college. Would that allow me to help my parents? But would that give me any happiness? I don’t think so. Take away all my worries? But then what would that do to my personality. I like to think the things that are hard to handle, makes me who I am. Should I take away all the characteristics of myself that I deem annoying or off-putting? But then what would make me different? There is no answer that would satisfy me. So why does she think she is abnormal for a question I don’t think most of us could answer. I guess it derives from a place where we all think we are different. Thoughts we have could never be the same to others. We are weird for having different thoughts, right? That is why I love this passage. The irony is the quote that makes Hannah believe she is different than everyone and that she is weird, is the most relatable. We all struggle with trying to “fit in” or whatever that means and seeing her handle things that I too think about gives such a connection. This passage encompasses the whole book. We wish we could be someone else, we wish to change, but with that we never truly love ourselves. That is the summary of the book right there.
This book was inspiring just as much as it was sad. I enjoyed reading this so much. I rate it a 6/10. I hope you read it.