4 out of 4 stars
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Ironbark Hill by Jennie Linnane is the coming of age story of Natalie Chapman a sixteen year old girl living in Australia. This is an important year for Natalie. She most overcome many obstacles such as prejudice, abusive family members, relationships and financial hardships. Despite her many challenges Natalie hopes to one day become a landscape artist.
The setting of the book is in Australia. The author uses descriptive language to help the reader visualize the setting. This is her description of the hills around Shannondale: “The hills were verdant; ferns, cabbage trees and eucalypts tthrove in the moist gullies, and vines of passionfruit and dotter ran rampant,” Passages like the one just quoted, enable the reader to paint a picture of the scene in their mind. Native plants and animals are also frequently mentioned.
The author writes very detailed character descriptions throughout the book. Many chapters were titled after a specific character. Detailed descriptions of each character included: their physical appearance, personality traits, and background, These details helped the reader to predict how a character would act in certain situations. Natalie’s feelings for the people and animals that surround her are also described.
The story is told in the first person by the main character Natalie. Because of the mature themes discussed in the book, I would recommend this book for high school students and adults. i feel that Ironbark Hill would be a great book for a discussion about how the choices we make affect our lives. Natalie makes decisions throughout the story. A few of the decisions she makes were so monumental that they affected not only Natalie but her family members as well. Like Natalie, teenagers are at a time in their lives when the decisions that they make can change the rest of their lives. This book can help them see the consequences that can come when people make poor choices.
One criticism, I have is that the obstacles that Natalie is dealing with throughout the book are resolved too suddenly. It made the ending feel a bit rushed. One pivotal event happens and all the obstacles are overcome. However, I did enjoy the epilogue. It was nice to see what happened to the characters thirty years later
I give Ironbark Hill a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. The writing style and descriptive language made the scenery and characters easy for the reader to visualize. Natalie was a sympathetic character. The reader is hoping that Natalie will be able to overcome her challenges and eventually achieve her dreams.
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