Tag Archives: realism

The Protected by Claire Zorn

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protectedcoverThe Protected by Claire Zorn, paperback novel, 254 pages, published by University of Queensland Press in 2014.

Life for Hannah is far from normal. It’s only been a year since her sister died, her father was crippled and her mother disappeared into herself. Life was crap for Hannah even before Katie died. She was being severely bullied by the kids at school, harassed, assaulted, cyber-bullied. Having a dead sister has stopped the bullying, but her wounds will take a long time to heal. Her life is screwed up as she paddles the deep waters of grief and guilt and pain. Though her days are dark, some hope seeps into her life when new boy, Josh, takes an interest in her, and she begins to build a rapport with the school counsellor.

I loved Claire Zorn’s previous book, The Sky So Heavy, but I love The Protected even more. It was a heart-rending tale of loss and survival, of guilt and hope. Tears may have been spilt whilst reading… but there were hopeful smiles too. The plot was compelling and very realistic. I read it quickly and thought about it for quite a while after I’d finished.

After the accident, Hannah’s parents were broken. Her father was physically crippled from his injuries, and her mother fell into her grief and forgot to keep living. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of losing a child, but they still had Hannah, and she needed them more than ever. They failed her. I can’t help thinking that Katie was their mother’s favourite, and because she couldn’t move forward, she almost lost both her daughters. What incredibly engulfing pain she must have been in to let Hannah down like this. I feel sad just thinking about it. This was a realistic insight into what the loss of a child can do to the family unit.

Hannah got under my skin, she kept me awake at night, she made me feel her pain, her guilt, her grief, her burden, her loneliness. And then from the depths she made me feel hope. I felt compassion for Hannah, but I also liked her. She was quiet and studious, but she was also full of strength. She was rather distrustful of Josh at first, but I liked the way that he persisted in getting to know her for her, irrespective of what the other kids thought.

I didn’t really like Katie. She seemed superficial, egotistical and selfish, but she probably would have grown past that had she survived her teenage years. Her relationship with Hannah might have had a chance to improve beyond high school, but during their teen years, Katie was pretty mean to Hannah. She was more concerned with her image than with how her sister was coping with school, with the fact that she had no friends, with the intense bullying. How does a sister watch that and not try to help? Hannah always lived in her sister’s shadow, and even in death Katie lingered over her.

The Protected is an incredible book that should be read by all Australian high school students. I thoroughly recommend it. I am excited to see what Claire Zorn produces next!

* The Protected was the winner of the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Older Readers category.

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Meeting of the Mustangs by Cathy Kennedy

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mustangscoverMeeting of the Mustangs by Cathy Kennedy, e-book novella, published in 2015.

A black colt is born into a band of wild Mustangs. At a young age he learns that life is not easy, and danger lurks around every corner. When he is accidentally separated from his family, he journeys on alone, and lonely in the hope that he will find them again. He encounters dangers, both in nature and at the hand of man, as he grows into a stunning and spirited stallion.

This was a fairly short and easy read. It was different in that it was primarily about the horse and his experiences, interaction with people was just collateral. The first part of the story was a bit slow, but it became more interesting once the horse came into contact with people. He wasn’t with any of the people long enough to get to know the characters very well though. The horse was very determined and mistrustful of people, understandably, he really should have been left in the wild. It made me feel angry that someone would capture a wild horse and then force him into captivity for no reason other than financial gain.

The plot was both realistic and logical. However, the story felt truncated to me, ending abruptly and too soon. I would have liked a little more about the last man that the horse finds, and how their relationship would go on to develop. All of the time spent with people felt too short, though it was probably necessary to fit with the nature of the story and the horse.

Perfect for horse lovers, Meeting of the Mustangs is suitable for middle primary school students and up.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.