3 out of 4 stars
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Iris is a sixteen-year-old girl. She is living with her mother, Ailish, and her siblings: Madeline, Tom, and Harry. Her father, Albert Jamesson, has been fighting alongside the 10th Light Horse Regiment. Iris is eagerly waiting for the return of her father. Albert arrives, and the family is delighted to have him back. He needs to adapt to a new lifestyle while battling the war memories. Albert begins talking about his experiences from the war. He relates battles that include their triumphal procession into Damascus and how they took over Jerusalem from the Turkish Empire. Albert establishes a routine of telling his war experiences on Sundays hence listeners gather outside his house with a crate of beer. However, there is much more to his return than just his stories. He is unstable and cannot hold onto a job for long. What does this mean for this poverty-stricken family? Will the family survive?
The Light Horse Ghost is a historical fiction book based on real-life Australian stories from the aftermath of World War 1. It contains 321 pages. The author of the book is Julie Jason. She is also a poet and a playwright. The setting of the book is in Australia through the years 1919-1921. It was a time when there was a high level of racial prejudice. It is this setting that keeps Iris questioning herself on the equality of all human beings. She could not comprehend why the Aboriginal people were forbidden to enter their own town.
Many characters in this book exhibit different qualities. The main character is Iris. Although she is only sixteen, she is able to stand up to defend her family and her friends. Her father is abusive and at times mistreats his children, but she does not allow him to mistreat her. Moreover, she is against the gender enculturation of women. For example, in her community, women are supposed to gather firewood, and put on false smiles. They are not allowed to eat with their mouths open or say anything actually important or relevant about politics or social change. To her, this notion just like racism is unacceptable. Albert is a drunkard who spends all his earnings on alcohol. However, he is unconcerned about his family. To others, he is a hero and a compassionate man who feeds and helps them. Ironically, he neither feeds nor helps his own children. Ailish is an insecure woman. She cannot defend herself or her children. When things become hard, she runs away leaving her children behind. There are many other characters with exceptional traits. My favorite character was Mrs. Brown, a neighbor of the Jamesson family. She is a widow. She encourages Iris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer and provides meals for her and her brothers and sisters when they lack.
This is a character-driven book, and the author did an excellent job of building characters who possess strengths and also flaws. The plot of the book, however, was not developed adequately. There were instances where it felt as though there were repetitions. For example, the anticipation of Albert’s return is lengthy due to this. There are also numerous loose events that were not tied. For example, Ailish sued her husband for failing to take care of his family. It is not revealed whether he did this or not. Also, Albert left his family several times, yet you find that he is back and do not know how it came to be. There are also several typos in the book which could have been easily detected if another round of editing was done. They include misspellings, wrong tenses, and also missing words.
I appreciate the fact that the story handles very important themes. It will also help readers to see they can pursue their dreams regardless of their current circumstances. The theme I loved most was kindness that was portrayed through many acts of compassion. The other aspect I liked about the book was scenes bound to evoke laughter. I had to laugh when Albert stack new wood into a fire unknowingly. He ended up burning ducklings that had been left to dry over the heat of the wood fuel oven. Only one duckling, Hughie, survived. The duckling became Harry’s pet. Therefore, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars due to the typos and the plot that was not well-developed. I recommend it to all fans of historical fiction books. It will appeal most to those who enjoy reading character-driven books.
The Light Horse Ghost
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