What have goats and sheep in common with a disappearance of Mrs. Creasy?
Initially, I have expected to read some British crime story in the style of Agatha Christie, narrated by an inqusitive little girl Grace. As it turned out, this novel is not as much about a crime itself, as about examination of suburban residents’ thinking in 1970‘, where gossiping and false accusations are happening on a daily basis. It wasn‘t a depressing read, though. I grew up much later in a small town, and am currently living in another one, and I remember similar behaviour around me, in both good and bad sense.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep refers to vicar‘s talk about two types of people in life, about God‘s absolute presence and curious naivity of two girls, Grace and Tilly, who decided to find God, and therefore answer all their questions about life, weird behaviour of the adults and most importantly, disappearence of one of the neighbours.
Novel‘s two storylines take place in 1967 and 1976, and each chapter is dedicated to a different house on the street, so the reader can follow various life stories and views on situations going on. It‘s not only the current mysterious event connecting some neighbours, but also dark secrets they carry together and on each own, worrying about being released.
While describing everyday‘s reality of suburb‘s life, shattered by an unexpected event, this book shows how hypocricy and feeling of superiority is often result of poor confidence, small secrets and harmful assumptions. It mocks pots calling kettles black. In addition, it focuses on collective bullying, inability to acknowledge possible existance of different truth, than we are pushed to believe. There are some goats and sheep amongst ourselves. But also some scapegoats, whose voices are being silenced.
Just after I finished reading The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, I could really appreciate witiness of its title. The end of the book reveals all questions readers must ask themselves from the beginning, and it gives hope to those who almost lost their trust in humanity. There are no tears, but definitely a small smile following last page of this promising debut.