4 out of 4 stars
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Ironbark Hill by Jennie Linnane
Ironbark Hill is a first person narrative of a woman’s reflection (Natalie) back on a particular year of her life living in Ironbark Hill, Australia. It describes, in detail, not only the events that occurred, but her feelings and thoughts about them.
This is an outstanding tale of the many changes that can occur to an adolescent young woman. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is just a fantastic, interesting read! I think this is a story that would be enjoyed by men and women alike, from teenagers through adults. I have rated it so highly because the characters are interesting and the story is well structured.
The author wisely establishes the story in chronological order, but even more than that, she gives each person, place or event that is significant to her story in this year its own chapter. I felt this kept the pace of the book moving smoothly. It also helped to give each character or benchmark its own recognition as to how it affected Natalie.
As the reader embarks on this young woman’s journey through this eventful and significant year in her life, one is not only introduced to her family and friends, but the author creates a very intricate quilt of detail to illustrate her surroundings. Not only are the basic details of a particular scene surrounding an event or memory described, but the author provides enough information throughout the book for a sense of having visited Ironbark Hill, Australia, even if the reader has never been.
The compelling main character of Natalie, or “Natty” as she is often called by family and dear friends, faces some challenges during her sixteenth year, not the least of which begin at home. She reveals that she is of part aboriginal heritage on her father’s side, and her father is dead. She faces difficulties with her stepfather and at times her half-sister, as her entire, rather large, extended family lives in poverty. Natalie is a strong spirit and she learns to navigate the many challenges that arise, all the while remaining loyal to her loved ones and doing all she can to help support and protect them. In finding her strengths, she also discovers she has a knack and a passion for painting landscapes. She begins her apprenticeship of painting with her friend and employer.
Ironbark Hill is professionally published. It has no discernible errors, and it is well-written. This is a story you will want to finish once you start, just to see what happens to Natalie next!
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