By Sophia Whitfield
Laguna first made her name as a children’s writer. In her second novel for adults she has created the character of a young boy with passion and depth. An unreliable narrator is at the heart of this achingly gritty novel.
Jimmy Flick is not like other boys. He watches emotions played out by others, desperate to understand feelings that are foreign to him.
Jimmy is sometimes too fast and other times too slow. He can never get to sleep unless Paula, his mum, is lying next to him helping him to count sheep. She is the only one who knows how to handle him. Teachers and students shy away from Jimmy, his father can’t understand him. His brother Robby keeps him out of trouble and away from his father when he is drunk. Robby and Paula know to keep away from Gav when he has been drinking. Jimmy doesn’t pick up the same messages; he doesn’t know when to stop and when to start.
In a fractious house with little money to support needs, stress plays out as brutality. Laguna shows how domestic violence in families has a habit of repeating itself.
Robby is old enough to leave home seeking the safe sanctuary of a place far away where communication is thankfully sporadic. Jimmy is stuck with his parents. He can’t go anywhere. But when the world as he knows it stops, Jimmy is forced to find his way on his own.
Laguna has deftly created the believable voice of young Jimmy Flick. The subject matter is at times harrowing but redemption is not far off. You will be championing Jimmy’s cause, willing him to discover a life he deserves.
As RJ Palacio did in Wonder so Sofie Laguna has perfected the voice of a child. The Eye of the Sheep is a dark tale told with perfection.
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