The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna
) The Book club I run enjoys keeping up with the latest trends in literary reads, so I often set award winning titles for our meetings. This month I selected “The Eye of the Sheep” by Sofie Laguna. This title has just won the 2015 Miles Franklin Award. I found the book a hard slog (because it was boring, not difficult) and finally finished it on the weekend. As I raced out to work on Monday morning I saw it sitting on my bedside table and grabbed it to return it to the library. As I picked it up and looked at the cover I realised I had almost totally forgotten the story already. So my one word review of the book would have to be “forgettable”. The story centres around Jimmy Flick, who is “not like other kids”, and certainly somewhere ‘on the spectrum’. His dysfunctional family consists of him, his overweight asthmatic mother, who seems to be the only one that can manage Jimmy, and his alcoholic and abusive father. There is an older brother, Robbie, but he gets jack of the whole thing early on in the piece and goes fishing. Good call Robbie as the plot goes downhill from the start. I too wanted to go fishing instead of reading the book, but silly me had set it for book club. To be fair the book is well written and has been described on the dust jacket as “A stunning work of compassion and empathy, insight and virtuosity….”, so this is just my own opinion. Speaking of the cover it is totally unappealing and I have noticed it rarely gets picked up, let alone read, from the “Hot Reads” shelf. One of my colleagues took it home to read after it won the award, but returned it unread declaring she “didn’t like the cover, the writing style, or the subject matter”. The title is a metaphor the author labours in the first chapter and (on and on) throughout the book. When Jimmy’s “cells start spinning” and he spiralls out of control he looks at the light in the eye of the sheep to focus and centre himself. He also looks at the light in the eye of the sheep when he counts sheep to try to sleep. At least I think that’s what it means – I was a bit bored stiff by that stage. Other revieweres have been much kinder than me, for example from the Allen and Unwin site:
(The story is) Told from the mesmerising point of view and in the inimitable voice of Jimmy, this is an extraordinary novel about a poor family who is struggling to cope with a different and difficult child.
I would be interested in others’ opinions of this book. My book club meets next week and their take will also be of interest.