4 out of 4 stars
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The novel Ironbark Hill by Jennie Linnane is a fictional story about the trials and tribulations of a young teenage girl, and her quest to find her way in life.
The novel begins by introducing the reader to the main character of the story, a 16-year-old girl named Natalie Chapman. The book is written from Natalie’s perspective and we find out quickly in the story that she is very strong-willed and independent, often defending herself, mother and brother from her alcoholic step-father Alex. She describes Alex as a bully and his presence as “oppressive”, and it seems throughout the story he is gunning for her. Natalie works for the wealthy Glover family during the week at their lavish home doing housework and chores. She loves working for the Glover’s because it allows her to escape her poor, volatile family life. Mrs. Glover is an artist and a strong female role model for Natalie. Natalie dreams of one day becoming an art teacher like Mrs. Glover. Natalie also develops a close relationship with Mr. Glover, who becomes her first love.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book very much. The writing is beautiful with an almost poetic-like narrative that is easy and fun to read. The characters in the book are very real and well-developed. I really struggled to find anything negative about the book. It was well edited and the author managed to tie up all of the lose ends by the conclusion. Also, I must say without divulging too much, that the ending is very satisfying.
This story was filled with symbolism, which made it even more interesting to read. I believe the Jersey cow that Natalie loves symbolizes her own fight for survival. As she fights against Alex who wants to take the cow and sell it, Natalie fights back by hiding the cow and vowing to protect her. I was really pulling for Natalie to rise above her adversity and come out on top throughout the book. I think her relationship with the Glover's is really what contributes the most to her eventual success in life.
In summary, I think the book would appeal to readers who really like an intense plot with a more serious overtone. Overall, the book was well written with very little noticeable errors and it was exciting to see what would happen with Natalie next. The ending was perfect and addressed all questions I had.
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