4 out of 4 stars
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Wow! Ironbark Hill by Jennie Linnane is a truly great book. I was highly surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. The story centers on Natalie, a quarter aboriginal teenager living with her mother, brother, two younger sisters, grandfather, and alcoholic stepfather. The book follows Natalie through her daily life dealing with the pressure coming from being a good role model for her siblings, being a supportive daughter to her mother, and her job cleaning the house of a husband and wife that live in the same town.
Natalie has her fair share of trials and tribulations to deal with, these include some glaring racism from people around her and the hormonal struggles of a girl who is coming of age. One thing that stood out to me was how well the author described the scenery. While it's not nearly as important as the life of Natalie and her family, it sets the reader up for an amazing journey through her hometown and all the people that live there. Linnane has a talent for using perfectly described scenery to help the reader feel every emotion Natalie is going through in any chapter.
While Natalie is dealing with several troubles in her life, it doesn't feel like too many problems. Each one is dealt with in time and some things that other people might consider a problem don’t appear to be so to Natalie. Each problem is given a clear solution by the time you finish reading the book and this just adds to the satisfaction of finishing the novel.
The book offers a rollercoaster of emotions and while I found myself laughing in one chapter, the next I was ready to put the book down until I could read it without being so mad. In my opinion, this is the trademark of a great book. I felt connected to most of the characters. Even if I didn’t agree with the way certain people handle certain situations, I could find something relatable to most of them. By the time I read the last sentence, it was almost cathartic.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Linnane is a great storyteller and she paints each chapter beautifully for the reader to enjoy. The characters are, for the most part, enjoyable and even those that aren't at least have substance and you can see a fully fleshed character as opposed to a typical flat villain. There is only one mistake that I could find, and it is simply a matter of kindle formatting. I usually prefer mystery/thriller novels but decided to give this book a chance and I'm so glad that I did. Because of this, I would recommend this book to anyone who comes across it.
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