‘Whooooeeeeee!’ I screamed as I jumped. ‘Paaaauuuullllllaaaaaa!’ The blades or me, who was the fastest? Nobody knew! Nobody even knew! I jumped again then I ran to the fence, touched it and ran back. Dad swiped at me. Mum came running, rocking like a rowboat on the sea, down the back step and across the gravel path, towards me and the mower and my shouting dad. ‘Wheeeeeeeeee!’ I screamed as I jumped, falling against the handle of the mower, tipping it on its side so its whirring silver blades glinted in the sun. I jumped again. Dad reached for me, but he went too close, too close!
Jimmy Flick is different. He’s too much of everything – too fast, too slow, too unpredictable, and certainly too different. Only his mother, Paula, seems to be able to manage him. His big brother Robby is often absent, and his dad doesn’t know what to do with him. Paula calms him when his thoughts are too fast, and tries to explain the world to him. She also protects him from his father. But there are some things a mother can’t protect her child from and when that happens Jimmy has to find a way for himself.
The Eye of the Sheep is a novel that stuns with its plot, wrenches with its emotions and leaves you satisfied, not because the ending is perfect but because the story has been put together perfectly.
Jimmy’s first person narration takes the reader inside the confused world of a child who sees things differently, which gives some relief from subject matter which could be bleak, even overwhelming. Jimmy’s family is dysfunctional, with alcohol abuse and domestic violence part of his every day world. His take on life is heart-wrenchingly poignant and his honesty and openness to people around him mean that he always seems to have some slim sense of hope.
This is not a feel good story. It is tough and in your face, but in such a way that you’ll be glad you read it.
The Eye of the Sheep, by Sofie Laguna
Allen & Unwin, 2014
Available from good bookstores and online.