4 out of 4 stars
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It has been years since I have read a book that brought tears to my eyes, IRONBARK HILL by Jennie Linnane is one such book. The story follows the life of a young half-aboriginal girl living with her family in Australia. Our young heroine, Natalie, has lost her father under suspicious circumstances and now is forced to tolerate the emotional and physical trauma of her abusive stepfather, Alex.
Natalie’s stepfather apparently had not always been the despicable low-life that he became in her teenage years. If she thought about it, she could remember him being a likable person when she was much younger. A tragedy which befell the family caused her stepfather to turn to alcohol for solace. But rather than ease his pain, the bottle only helped turn him into a bitter and angry man. He manages to make life miserable for Natalie, her brother, Joey, her loving and gentle mother, and her two younger half-sisters---whom she adores. The only person that her stepfather can’t quite intimidate is her grandfather. Her mother’s father owns the farm where they all live and it is only by his good graces that Natalie’s stepfather is allowed to remain there at all.
This wonderful story would appeal to anyone who loves to read, from the young adult to the elderly. It encompasses all the emotions----love, hate, happiness, sadness, and so much more. You will smile one minute at the joys of youth and love, then cry the next at the horrors of abuse, bullying, and tragedy. So well written, the author draws you right into the thick of all the senses that you may or may not have experienced in your own life’s travels.
Remarkable talent is displayed in the interweaving of such a variety of personalities and circumstances. The wealth and poverty, the youth and age, the humble and the haughty, the joy of birth and the sadness of death all making an appearance center stage. I can’t say that there was anything that I did not like about this story---except that it ended.
Honest and truthful feelings are shown by the characters in this book as it culminates to an ending that you won’t be expecting. I loved it from beginning to end. Very well edited as I found no errors----although I did have to do a little research since spelling in the US can be a little different from that in the UK. Also, there was a short period of blurry, teary-eyed blindness. I rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars.
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