BOOK REVIEW: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Summer, 1976.
Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-old Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands. But as doors and mouths begin to open and the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find more than they could have imagined. 

Publisher: Borough Press
Pages: 453

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is everywhere at the moment so I had to find out what all the hype was about! I;m so glad I did as I think this book is very special.
Set in the Summer of 1976, The Avenue where Grace and Tilly live is buzzing with secrets and whispers. Mrs Creasy from No. 8 has gone missing, her husband has no idea where she has gone and so speculation becomes rife. Grace and Tilly decide to help with the investigation and for some reason they decide that if they find God then they will definitely find their missing neighbour. But as they begin asking questions and making their own observations, it becomes clear that The Avenue if holding many secrets, not just the disappearance of Mrs Creasy.
This book is so nostalgic, it really made me think about the long summer holidays I experienced as a child, playing outside with my friends and the different way in which I viewed the world then. Grace and Tilly's world as children is focused entirely on The Avenue, that is their only real experience. As the story develops the author shows how it is the same for some of the adults who live there. They have an extremely narrow perspective of the world and some would rather believe what they choose to rather than the truth.
It took me a little while to get into the swing of this book as there are quite a few characters to introduce. But once I was comfortable with who they all were than I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The relationship between Grace and Tilly is perfectly presented; Joanna Cannon shows how, at the age of ten, friendships can be so precarious. Intense love and devotion one minute followed by fickleness and fall outs.
The two girls are so innocent and unaware of what is taking place around them. This enables the author to make some very subtle but profound observations of the other characters. All of the adults have their own axes to grind about each other but Grace and Tilly just take everything at face value.
Joanna Cannon explores people's perceptions of others and how we can project an image on to someone that can be entirely false. But if we believe it enough then others will follow suit. The consequences of this taking place in The Avenue have been devastating. One off-hand comment, one lie and one misunderstanding have led to a whole catalogue of awful events and recriminations.
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep left me with so much to think about, it is beautifully written and thought-provoking, I highly recommend it.


Nadia A said...

Dot, I loved this book, too. The writing was terrific. I loved getting to know Tilly and her neighbors. I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much. I think its a special book and that people will really enjoy the sense of nostalgia it evokes.

Dot said...

I think so too Nadia, one of my favourites so far this year!

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