Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. 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 to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.
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.
High scores all around could take this month’s book to the top of our list this year.
Consistent remarks such as, ‘Well written’, ‘great insight’, and ‘brilliantly portrayed’ went around the table, with everyone feeling much empathy for Jimmy and his whole family, even the father, whose struggle with alcohol and domestic violence would not normally get a great deal of sympathy from our group! We all thought Robbie a wonderful big brother and Paula a sad, yet endearing character whose only fault was she loved too much.
It was thought that Laguna found a unique way to tell a child’s story through his own autistic view of the world. It was left up to us, the readers, to fill in any gaps which, with Jimmy’s frankness and precision, we found easy to do (although some found it all a little overwhelming).
There were many social issues addressed in this book … mental health, domestic violence, education, community services and generational dysfunction, so if you are even a little sensitive to familial turmoil, you might find the contents a little disturbing.
But there was also an uplifting side to this novel. It gives good insight into children on the spectrum, their joys and challenges, and there is also hope and throughout the book, love … misguided at times, but love nonetheless.
The only criticisms were the repetitive nature of Jimmy’s narration, (which we realise was necessary for a true portrait of who he was) and the fact that certain problems associated with such a dysfunctional family were glossed over, or not addressed at all. In other words, it could have been so much worse!
Then again, without exception, everyone in our group knew of or had experience with an autistic child, either professionally or personally, an they all believe that Laguna got it right.
So if you pick up The Eye of the Sheep and don’t shy away from its confronting aspects, you’re in for a powerful read!