4 out of 4 stars
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Ironbark Hill by Jennie Linnane is a wonderfully written book. Depicting imagery so that readers could easily find themselves walking the trails described in the novel. Just enough detail to bring the words to life. Because the book is set in Australia, it took a little time to adjust to the verbiage used by the characters. Though, once adjusted, I was wrapped up and ready to follow the author’s tale.
This is the year that impacts Natalie the strongest. What leads her to the woman she will become in adulthood. Natalie’s sixteenth birthday goes by seemingly unnoticed. Home life is not a happy place. Alex, her stepfather, is an abusive alcoholic who wreaks havoc on the family. Natalie’s grandfather, worn down mother, and three other siblings live in a home that is falling into shambles due to the neglect of a drunken oppressor. Natalie assumes the role of protector, wishing all the while for nothing more than a life of joy for her family. With hopes that Alex will turn his life around and restore the family farm. Though, Natalie’s hatred for Alex is met with the utter distain Alex feels for her, leaving her to believe that her hopes will be unanswered.
Natalie is able to find peace only at her place of employment. She works for Mr. and Mrs. Glover. Rosemary Glover, a painter and theatrical performer, sees talent in Natalie and soon becomes her art mentor. Natalie finds that she truly admires Mrs. Glover. Bruce Glover is a quiet man who becomes the object of Natalie’s secret desires. This leads to Natalie being torn between guilt and desire when she finds that Bruce Glover reciprocates her interests. Which only adds more complications later to her home life.
The reader easily becomes very attached to Natalie. She is a strong willed, stubborn, good hearted person. Her only concern is that of the wellbeing of her family. And the reader hopes that her heart does not continue to harden. But as the story unfolds, Natalie reminds us that she is only human, and that she is very capable of making decisions that are not in line with her good character.
This is a good book for anyone who enjoys reading. By the end, the reader is left with no unanswered questions. This novel is very well rounded and completely captivates its readers. All the turmoil of a young adult is in this book; from sibling rivalry to matters of the heart, nothing is missed. I would rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars.
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