3 out of 4 stars
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The novel The Red Sheep by Paul Richardson explores some interesting facts about growing up and parenthood. In the process, it affirms that we're the product of our own actions and thought.
One day, Allie faced a barrage of questions from her twelve-year-old daughter, Jessica. Apparently, while going through her late grandma’s, Nan’s, stuff, Jessica had come across an anniversary card mentioning how Nan and Pop had lost their daughter Allie when she was seventeen. Piecing together her mom’s disappearance then and the subsequent mysterious circumstances of her birth, Jessica’s current questions attempt to make sense of some incidents that are increasingly happening to her in and out of school.
Two years prior, a conversation with her grandpa, Pop, had confirmed to Jessica that none of her family members had red hair. The fact that she’d later become a victim of bullying at school over her red hair had only intensified her yearning to know something about her real father. As if that wasn’t enough, her friends talked about drugs and sex all the time; she, thus, wanted to know whether drugs compelled someone to want to have sex, especially considering that she knew a girl in grade nine who slept around with multiple partners.
This book appealed to me because it focused on social problems currently facing the youth, such as misuse of drugs and alcohol, bullying, and sexual risk behaviors that could lead to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Furthermore, as a parent, I liked the warm relationship that Allie had nurtured with her daughter, Jessica. This encouraged Jessica to talk openly about problems that she was encountering at school. At the same time, this was also a good opportunity for Allie to use her experience in counseling Jessica on the issues she was facing.
Moreover, I found the book informative in highlighting the mental damage that can result when unsupervised adults brainwash kids under their care. Jessica happened to have a close relationship with her know-it-all Pop, who, sometimes, had no qualms ranting expletives whenever he felt offended. Regardless, Pop had this habit of regularly sharing with Jessica his wild views on religion without considering her parent’s opinion on it.
On the flip side, the book needs some reworking to eliminate multiple incidents of editing errors in it (over ten errors identified). Because of this weakness, I rate it 3 out of 4 stars.
Finally, I recommend this coming-of-age novel to readers who are looking for a shocking and thrilling experience because of the multiplicity of raw human emotion and ambition featured therein. As a further guidance, I think there is more introspection than laughter in this story. At the same time, it’s less suited to individuals with strong views on religion, sex, and profanity.
The Red Sheep
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