4 out of 4 stars
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Natalie Campbell is fighting many things in her life. She is fighting racism as a biracial teenager. She is fighting against her alcoholic stepfather in order to protect her mother and younger brother who suffers from an intellectual disability. She is fighting against everything she sees as right as she falls in love with a married man. She is fighting against her family's level in society to achieve her dream of becoming a painter. Ironbark Hill is told from a middle aged Natalie as she looks back on her life the year she was sixteen.
The characters are all captured greatly throughout this book. The author does a great job at including the dialects of the characters when they are speaking. The characters, especially Natalie, all grow throughout the story. They learn about life and love, and adjust their lives accordingly. The story takes place in a year’s time frame, but the way each individual is described makes it seem like it is much longer.
The layout of the book makes it read similar to Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Color Purple. The narrator is the main character that is remembering her past. She details her struggles and emotions as if it happened yesterday. The author, Jennie Linnane, uses a great choice of words to paint a picture. This makes it feel as if the story is being written exactly as it is being told by Natalie, whose hobby is painting landscapes. I can see this book becoming a classic in years to come.
Linnane does a great job at making the characters relatable. The way she describes their feelings and emotions during each event really draws the reader in. She allows the readers to feel like the love, loss, betrayal, and acceptance happen to them instead of the characters. There were several times I found myself so engulfed in the story that I felt as if the emotions were flowing through my own body.
I give Ironbark Hill by Jennie Linnane 4 out of 4 stars. It is a great book that can become a classic easily. It reads similar to the works of Zora Neal Hurston and Alice Walker. Linnane develops great character growth and development in a short span of time. The use of dialects, while a little tough to follow at the beginning, transports the reader directly into the story. The story is short enough to be read in one sitting and written well enough that it will be read in one sitting. I recommend this book for anyone that enjoys a strong female main character. I could not put this book down and I believe you won’t be able to either.
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