An uneasy yet ultimately rewarding novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep offers a lethal look at human frailty that is softened but not blunted by childhood nostalgia, by the heat of a long ago summer and by a sense of our own complicity – that we are as flawed as the characters that Joanna Cannon brings to life. Set in an ordinary street in the 1970s, the story follows two nine year old girls, Grace and Tilly, as they search for God and although the symbolism is sometimes a little heavy-handed, the truths they uncover on their quest pack a punch. There are more questions than answers here – where has Mrs Creasy gone? What really happened during the fire at number 11? Every household has its secrets and the need to keep up appearances robs relationships of any kind of emotional validity. The residents of The Avenue shore up their own shortcomings by collectively turning on an innocent outsider – Walter Bishop, with devastating consequences. In this respect it really is a novel for these complicated and ambiguous times.