18 Apr 2015

REVIEW: The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna

Title: The Eye of the Sheep
Author: Sofie Laguna
Genre: Adult, Literary Fiction.
Publication Date: August 1st 2014
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Format: Paperback
Pages: 308
Rating: 4.5/5
Challenge: Stella Prize 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 finds a lot of the adult world impossible to understand - especially why his Dad gets so angry with him. Jimmy's mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall sleep. 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 no one else to turn to. He alone has to navigate the unfathomable world and make things right.

Sofie Laguna's first novel, One Foot Wrong received rave reviews, sold all over the world and was longlisted for both the Miles Franklin and Prime Minister's Awards. 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.

This is the third book in my read-through of the Stella Prize 2015 shortlist nominations. If you want to learn more about them, please click here.

Okay, wow. I’m going to be completely honest here when I say this was probably the book on the shortlist that I was probably least interested in. I listened to Sofie Laguna read an excerpt of this as part of the Digital Writers Festival and I thought it was amazing, but I wasn’t sure that it would be my kind of book.

Oh, past Ely. How ignorant you were. So far, this is my favourite Stella Prize nomination. I do have three more to go, but this — wow.

It was a little slow to start of with, and Jimmy’s voice is kind of hard to get used to it — really is the mind of a little boy so I struggled for the first 100 pages or so. I still flew through those pages though. I absolutely loved Jimmy from page one — how could you not? He’s this gorgeous little boy who has a pretty horrible life at times, I just wanted to wrap him up and give him a big hug.

This wouldn’t be nearly as powerful without Jimmy’s voice. You read everything from his point of view, so there are things that he doesn’t understand and it makes it confusing for the readers too. I loved how this was done. I’m not always a big fan of confusing narratives, but this was executed so unbelievably well. I felt like Sofie Laguna was actually Jimmy, or maybe that Jimmy was actually Sofie Laguna.

The thing is… my heart is now in pieces on the floor before Sofie Laguna has torn it out and stamped on it so many times. I don’t remember the last book that made me cry this much. I didn’t even cry, I literally sobbed. Sometimes I couldn’t even read the words on the page through my web of tears. I just love that feeling, don’t you?

So yes, favourite Stella Prize nomination so far, lots and lots of tears. I would absolutely recommend it to every single human being of this earth, because pain.