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The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers

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The Eyes and the Impossible views friendship, survival, self-knowledge and teamwork through the “eyes” of an observant and admirable dog.

The post The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers appeared first on Redeemed Reader.

The Eyes and the Impossible views friendship, survival, self-knowledge and teamwork through the “eyes” of an observant and admirable dog.

The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers. Knopf, 2023, 249 pages.

eyes and the impossible

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12

Recommended for: ages 8-14

The Eyes of a Dog

“I turn I turn I turn before I lie to sleep and I rise before the sun.” Johannes is a dog, as he informs us right away. His mother was housekept but chose to bear her litter of five in the wilderness—after which she returned to the house taking one of the pups with her. Three others were taken up by humans, but Johannes “ran into the woods where I remained free and became the Eyes.” That is, he’s a watchdog keeping track of events in the national park in order to report to Freya, Meredith, and Samuel, the resident bison. They are the oldest and wisest, the Keepers of the Equilibrium, but confined to a three-acre enclosure. That’s why observant Johannes makes an excellent “Eyes.” Four Assistant Eyes round out his vision: Bertrand the gull, Sonja the one-eyed squirrel, Yolanda the pelican, and Angus the raccoon.

The Assistants represent and speak for every animal in the park, and they look out for each other against the wiles of humans. Granted, some humans are decent and respectful, but there are others, like the Trouble Travelers who abduct Johannes while he’s distracted. Fortunately, while he wasn’t watching the Assistants were watching out for him and cobbled together a successful rescue plan. Johannes is grateful, but unsettled. The thing that distracted him to begin with was an art exhibit at the park, a series of landscapes that took him out of himself and suggested a dimension of freedom he’s never known. The more he reflects on it, the more he becomes convinced that he has a mission beyond observing and reporting: that is, to release the bison from their enclosure and let them roam again.

Every reasonable creature knows that the worst thing any creature can do all day is think of themselves. If there are troubles in your mind, you should think first of the troubles of others; it is the essence of liberation. That is, freedom begins the moment we forget ourselves.

His mission is Impossible, but the Assistants are willing to help. If all the parts come together, it can work. But what if the bison are not, ultimately, the ones who need to be freed?

“Freedom begins the moment we forget ourselves.”

The book is beautifully written with enough idiosyncratic touches to convince us it’s a dog talking. For instance, Johannes has no concept of time: “It was not long ago. I would estimate it to be about two hundred years ago.” His friends have their blind spots and humorous touches as well. Oddly, there are no natural predators in the park, but no reader will mind that while immersed in the narrative. The lush, double-page illustrations are all classical landscapes (referenced in the appendix) with Johannes incorporated. It’s a beautiful touch to a beautiful story and excellent family read-aloud.

Considerations:

  • Johannes believes that “the Sun is God and the clouds are her messengers.” A new acquaintance, who might be construed as a kindly atheist, gently questions this belief. Their conversation could be a springboard to discussion.
  • The animals don’t misuse God’s name but the humans do, profusely, during one highly stressful incident. All in lower case, whatever that means.

Overall Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.75
  • Artistic/literary value: 5

Read more about our ratings here.

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The post The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers appeared first on Redeemed Reader.

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