Anne Fleming, The Goat, Pushkin Children’s Books, April 2018, 160 pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781782692140
The Goat is set in an apartment building near Central Park in New York. It is that most satisfying of mosaic stories, where the characters each go about their lives oblivious to each other until the presence of a goat on the roof brings them together, changing them all in wonderful ways.
The cast of characters includes:
– Kid, a young girl from Toronto who has come to New York with her parents while her mother’s play is performed off Broadway. They are house sitting and caring for a dog named Cat.
– Kenneth P. Gill, the owner of the goat, who is constantly stymied by the speed with which the goat moves.
– Joff, a blind skateboarding novelist with a guide dog called Michigan
– Will, a home schooled boy who lost both his parents during the 9-11 World Trade disaster
– the elderly Johnathon, who has had a stroke and is being cared for by his wife Doris
Each of them is struggling with something that makes their life difficult. Kid has fairly severe social anxiety, and her new friend Will has a kind of agoraphobia where he can’t go near windows. His grandmother is too fearful to let him out of her sight. Kenneth’s father passed away and Kenneth feels he didn’t really appreciate his father enough or say goodbye properly. Joff has writer’s block. Kid’s mother Lisa is terrified of how her play will be received and frequently verges on panic attacks. Johnathon has shut down since his stroke and resents Doris for making him do the rehabilitation exercises that will help him recover. And the goat wants to get to Central Park to gambol, but doesn’t want to go back into the scary cave that is Kenneth’s apartment, which is the only way to get there.
When Kid and Will hear there is a goat living on top of the apartment building, they set out to discover if this is more than an urban myth. In the process of finding out the truth, they undertake a journey of friendship and transformation that brings everyone together and helps them face their fears. This is a warm-hearted, beautifully constructed story with quirky, brave characters that will linger in memory for a long time.
Reviewed by Rachel Le Rossignol