I’m not a rereader. I typically read a book once, love or hate it, and then add it to my bookshelves for safekeeping. Even when I really love a book, I just read it the one time. I often love a book because I read it at the right time in my life, and I’d regret jeopardizing that experience by reading a beloved book again. Joanna Cannon’s debut novel, THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, is a rare exception.
I’ve actually read this book three times now. Each time I read it, I love it even more as I pick up on subtle nuances I didn’t catch the previous times. This book is like a comfort food I can turn to when I need guaranteed satisfaction.
THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP begins when Mrs. Creasy disappears from her English neighborhood one morning in the blistering summer of 1976. Grace, a spirited and precocious ten-year-old, and her best friend Tilly decide to investigate when the adults on The Avenue fail to properly do so. A misinterpreted conversation with the local vicar sends the girls door to door looking for God, believing that He might lead them to Mrs. Creasy.
Thus Grace and Tilly accidentally uncover a complicated series of secrets tied to a fateful event ten years before. As they try to make sense of what they’ve seen and heard, a wider history of deception emerges: a missing baby, a deadly fire, and a town united against an outsider.
A quirky and utterly charming story about a community wrought with secrets and two girls learning what it means to belong, THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP has it all—endearing characters, an enticing plot, pitch-perfect prose, and expertly executed touches of humor and humanity. Joanna Cannon brilliantly constructs a cast of wildly different characters and an amusing world in which adults do not behave well, but children (mostly) do.
It’s not surprising considering the author is a psychiatrist whose patients inspired her to examine the judgments we form about those who don’t quite fit in and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves—themes she explores in this novel.
Fans of WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE or THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME will hurriedly turn the pages of this irresistible book—and then will want to read it all over again.