The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is you don’t always know which is which.
Mrs. Creasy has gone missing and everyone on The Avenue thinks it’s the pariah of the neighborhood who did her in. Accused and vindicated of taking a baby many years ago, the neighbors refuse to believe he is or ever was innocent. Ten year old friends, Grace and Tilly set out to find out what happened to Mrs. Creasy. Oh, and they’re looking for God, too.
This story is a delight on all levels. The girls hear in church that God gathered in his sheep and cast the goats out and that God is everywhere and they decide to, one by one, interview each person on the street under the guise of being Girl Guides, to find God. They’re sure if they find him they will discover what happened to Mrs. Creasy.
What they find, though, is that behind the front door of every house there is a secret, a mystery, a dysfunction that is kept quiet. The summer is hot and dry and people’s nerves aren’t under control. Things slip, the outcast is taunted, and it is discovered that Mrs. Creasy was a part of all of their lives and thus knew all of their secrets. This is heady stuff for ten year old girls and in the process, their friendship is greatly tested when an image of God is discovered on a drain pipe.
We have a lot in a small package with this wonderful story. Part mystery, part coming of age, part a study in compassion, prejudice, innocence, tolerance, there just wasn’t anything not to like.