The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna

Published: 2014 Allen and Unwin Setting: Melbourne, 1970s/80s Genre: Literary Fiction 1. First lines. 2. Cover Allen and Unwin 3. Boy running [CC BY 2.0] by woodleywonderworks via flickr The original image has been cropped and filtered. 4. Lines [Public Domain] via Pixabay
  • THE STORY:
    • This is the story of Jimmy Flick and his family (mother Paula, and father Gav, and brother Robby). Jimmy has an unspecified disorder, probably autism. His condition exacerbates problems in the family (Paula’s asthma and Gav’s alcoholism and depression) and as the situation reaches crisis point, Jimmy tries to find a way to make things right.
  • BOOK REVIEWS:
    • Judges’ Report – Stella Prize: Sofie Laguna faultlessly maintains the storytelling voice of Jimmy, who is oblivious in some ways and hauntingly knowing and observant in others. There are many places in which such a story could tip over into sentimentality or melodrama, but Laguna’s authorial control and intelligence keep the story on track and the reader engaged and empathetic, and she manages both the humour and the darkness of this story with great sensitivity and precision.”
    • Readings: “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.”
    • Sydney Morning Herald: “Not a book one would pick up lightly, but Laguna has made it more than tolerable, with a beautiful, sombre writing style, relieved by occasional happy-go-lucky moments and strangely surprising resilience and pure joy in Jimmy.”
  • MY THOUGHTS:
    • The author has created a detailed study of a family in crisis, with the focus on youngest son Jimmy. He is the narrator, and the author skillfully immerses the reader in his world as he tries to make sense of what’s happening in his family, and as the story progresses, we care deeply about what happens to him. It’s a very sad story with some very dark themes of domestic violence, alcoholism and depression, but there are touches of humour in many of Jimmy’s conversations, and many tender and touching moments. Highly recommended.
  • QUOTES:
    • “The wetlands were made of mud and water and stiff silver grass, floating plastic and seaweed. Robby pulled me to the edge of the stream and then we sat and he put his arm around my shoulder. I breathed in one out one, and looked at the grass and the clouds and the sun half hidden and the birds on the water and I felt myself joining with the swamp. On the other side of the grass and the stream, way in the distance, the flame leapt from the refinery pipe – like the light in the sheep’s eye, it never died. We sat there for a long time, Robby’s arm drawing speed and fear from my cells. The arm wasn’t too tight or too loose. Its temperature set mine to itself, cooling me from hot to warm.”
    • “I wished I had a manual for crying; I’d follow the instructions carefully from point to point, letter to letter, until I cried enough tears to fill the tray of a truck … “
  • AUTHOR: Sofie Laguna
  • AWARDS:
  • OTHER EDITIONS:

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