The Eye of the Sheep

By Sofie Laguna Allen & Unwin

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.


Sofie Laguna

Sofie Laguna is an author, actor and playwright. Her books for young people have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Awards. Sofie’s first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, was published throughout Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom. Her second novel, The Eye of the Sheep, was shortlisted for the 2015 Stella Prize and won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Judges' report


Jimmy Flick isn’t an ordinary child, and as his story progresses we quickly realise that he has some unspecified condition, probably somewhere on the autism spectrum. He can’t slow down, he can’t calm down, and he can’t respond appropriately in difficult or even dangerous situations, but his world view is unique and full of unexpected insights. His father, defeated by the difficulties of living with such a child, takes to drink and domestic violence. And then things get worse.

Sofie Laguna faultlessly maintains the storytelling voice of Jimmy, who is oblivious in some ways and hauntingly knowing and observant in others. There are many places in which such a story could tip over into sentimentality or melodrama, but Laguna’s authorial control and intelligence keep the story on track and the reader engaged and empathetic, and she manages both the humour and the darkness of this story with great sensitivity and precision.

Further reading


Reviews:

‘In Sofie Laguna’s hands, this is a magical piece of storytelling that uplifts as it gazes unflinchingly into the abyss of some people’s lives. To say it is an enjoyable read is to undermine its subject. What The Eye of the Sheep is, is a treatise on the indefatigable, that the human spirit must, does, ultimately triumph.’ – Meredith Jaffe, The Hoopla

‘In harnessing her storytelling facility to expose the flaws in the system with what is becoming trademark empathy, Laguna is an author proving the novel is a crucial document of the times.’ – Louise Swinn, The Australian

‘Laguna has vividly brought to life what it must be like to be a child, and a different kind of child, and the effect such a child and his condition can have on a family. By getting inside Jimmy’s mind, and showing what an amazing place it is, a book like this goes a long way toward explaining what a library of textbooks could not.’ – Anne Susskind, Sydney Morning Herald

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