The Protected is the story of Hannah McCann who is in year 10 at a Catholic High School in Sydney. A year ago, her older sister, Katie, died in a car accident and her father was seriously injured. Since then, her mother has become seriously depressed. Hannah was also in the car but received only minor injuries. The court case is scheduled for a few weeks and Hannah will be required to testify. In the meantime, she is expected to make a statement to the police but has been unable to do so as she can’t remember what happened. Consequently, Hannah has seen a series of professional counsellors which she hasn’t found helpful. The school principal suggests she sees the school counsellor.

Hannah was already having problems at school before Katie’s death. Hannah is a quiet, gentle, nerdy girl who doesn’t quite fit in with the social expectations of her peers. As a result, she was being bullied.

The story comes to a satisfying ending. There is hope that Hannah and her family will be able to make the necessary adjustments and move forward with their lives.

Claire Zorn has produced a well-written, enjoyable story despite the trauma and grief that Hannah and her family experienced.

I wanted to give it four stars on Goodreads but didn’t for the following reasons.

• The title, The Protected, seems odd because no one was protected.
• Often, I was well into a flashback before I realised. Other books I’ve read put flashbacks in italics or have some other distinguishing feature.
• In the accident that killed Katie, a vehicle turning right at an intersection, even when the light was orange, would mean the oncoming traffic must be facing a red light. This was not explained nor what happened to the other driver.
• Josh befriending Hannah was a bit convenient. Likewise, in context, Jensen was also a bit too good to be true, but perhaps acceptable in a young adult novel.

More reviews of this book can be found on Goodreads.