I walked into my book club meeting for October, and the librarian handed me a book called The Eye of the Sheep. Its cover depicted the face of a little boy next to his furry, canine friend.
I thoguht to my self, "What is this?"
I turned the book to its back and read the blurb. At the time I thought the book sounded boring. I came home, set this book on the shelf and forgot about it for the next 3 weeks. As the date for the next book club meeting approached, I gathered this book and thought to myself that I would just skim through it. However, 20 pages into this book, I realized the error of my prejudice - The Eye of the Sheep was in fact, an excellent book and I regretted to having set it aside for so long.
Sofie Laguna, an Australian novelist, wrote this book. It won the 2015 Miles Franklin Award. This is a moving story about how, the effects of domestic violence can pass down from one generation to the next. The story is told from the perspectives of a little boy called Jimmy Flicks.
The story was set in the sunshine state of Queensland, Australia. The time was the early 1980s. Little Jimmy lived in a house with his parents and an elder brother. But Jimmy was not like other boys of his age; he is either too fast, or too slow. Jimmy could not understand the world of the adults, especially why his father was getting so angry with him. Only Paula, Jimmy's loving mother, could manage little Jimmy. She taught Jimmy how to sleep by counting the sheeps, and she steered Jimmy out of his father's way. One day, Jimmy's world crumbled, leaving the little boy on his own to set things right.
The Eye of the Sheep told a riveting story. The author's writings were energetic and effective. The most interesting aspect of the book, I opine, was the way the story presented the views of an autistic boy. I was captivated by the descriptions on how little Jimmy saw the world, and it opened my mind to something that I never thought about before. I used have a flat mate who had severe ADD. Now I wonder how he saw the world and those around him.
Thematically, The Eye of the Sheep explored the tragic effects of domestic violence. In this book, the aftermaths of domestic violence didn't just stop at one generation. No, it passed on to the next generation like ripples in a pond. Minor spoiler: in this book, Jimmy's mother suffered episodes of domestic violence in the hands of her husband. However, this book succeeded in giving each character a rounded portrayal, and it didn't just depict the father as a villain. Instead, the story explained why Jimmy's father was abusive, and it was tragic. This story got me thinking – we really need to be careful about the things we do and say because it is never free; somewhere, someone, will have to pay for our actions and be scarred by it, just as it might go further to hurt those who come after them
During the book club meeting, I expressed my astonishment; although the story was set in the early 1980s (a relatively modern age), but Jimmy's mother endured the abuse in silence nevertheless. My friends at the book club, most of them are ladies and senior to me in age, informed me that in some cases, women would endure domestic violence for the sake of her children. To me, the information was both startling and upsetting. In my opinion, while some traditional views might teach that it is a virtuous act of self-sacrifice for a woman to endure an abusive husband and respond with love, but I think that sort of belief is extremely harmful. It is harmful not only to the victim but also to her children. Why? Because domestic violence traumatizes children, and they carry its shadows with them into their adulthoods and their own family, just like what happened to Jimmy's family in this book. In my opinion, instead of enduring domestic violence, surely it is better to expose it early so the victim and her children can both receive counselling and healing.
I came away from The Eye of the Sheep with a headful of thoughts. I was invested in its characters and I cared for them. Jimmy's story is heart-breaking, but it concluded on a hopeful tone. This is an excellent book and it brings to our attentions, the poisonous effects of domestic violence. I highly recommend this book.