The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna
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.