The Eye of the Sheep

Sofie Laguna

The Eye of the Sheep
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The Eye of the Sheep

Sofie Laguna

Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2015

Ned was beside me, his messages running easily through him, with space between each one, coming through him like water. He was the go-between, going between the animal kingdom and this one. I watched the waves as they rolled and crashed towards us, one after another, never stopping, always changing. I knew what was making them come, I had been there and I would always know…

 

Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids - he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She holds him tight enough to stop his cells spinning. It is only Paula who can keep Jimmy out of his father’s way. But when Jimmy’s world falls apart, he has to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.

 Sofie Laguna’s first novel One Foot Wrong received rave reviews, sold all over the world and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. In The Eye of the Sheep, her great originality and talent will again amaze and move readers. In the tradition of Room and The Lovely Bones, here is a surprising and brilliant novel from one of our finest writers.

Review

Jimmy is different. Where we see our parents, friends or siblings, he sees internal organs and blood rushing through their veins. At age six, he reads instruction manuals to his mother. He worries about her weight, and obsesses over the mechanisms of the tumble dryer and about his relationship with his brother. He becomes manic when the lawnmower is being used and is anxious about his dad ‘hitting the hard stuff’. He loves so deeply that the cells in his body spin uncontrollably. Nothing about Jimmy is normal.

The Eye of the Sheep follows Jimmy’s journey as he tries to understand himself and the world around him. It works as a reminder that having a child with special needs is not an impossible task; it is a challenge that runs alongside complexities faced by many families.

Sofie Laguna tackles the intricacies of love and marriage, brotherhood, power dynamics, medical issues and the definition of family – her novel is a mixture of the brutality found in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones and the pain in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Equally distressing and uplifting, every moment of pain is juxtaposed with the light we see in the central figure of Jimmy.

This book should be impossibly bleak, but Laguna has managed to imbue it with luminosity. This is a story about how to find your place in the world and how to accept what you have been given. The Eye of the Sheep will break your heart – a small price to pay to hear Jimmy’s story.

Savannah Indigo works as a bookseller at Readings Malvern.

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