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Carry Me Down

By M. J. Hyland

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Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Published In: Australia, 06 March 2006
John Egan lives with his mother, father and grandmother in rural Ireland. The Guinness Book of Records is his favourite book and he wants to visit Niagara Falls with his mother. But, more than anything, John is determined to become a world-famous lie detector, almost at any cost. This spell-binding novel is about John's obsessive and dangerous desire to see the truth, even as his family is threatened in countless ways. Carry Me Down is written in clean, compelling prose, and everything that John says and thinks and does seems terribly real. In M.J. Hyland's singular tale of disturbed love every word rings true.


A spare, piercing testimony to the bewilderment and resiliency of youth, Hyland's second novel (following How the Light Gets In) filters the adult world through the distressed lens of adolescence, which makes every change look like a test of survival. John Egan is an extremely tall 11-year-old boy living in the small town of Gorey, Ireland, with the moody triumvirate of his mother, father and grandmother. As he faces the trials of home and school life, John feels he has no place in the world, and his frustration fuels odd obsessions: with the Guinness Book of World Records, with physical human contact and with his "gift" for detecting lies. His parents, already sorting through their own uneasy relationship, puzzle over their only son with doctors and teachers, pushing John to a moment of crisis, which may prove his undoing. John's voice is singular and powerful throughout: "I wait anxiously for my turn, thinking that he'll soon discover me and know that I'm different. I've already decided that I'll tell him about my gift." By the subtle, satisfying d?nouement, one is rooting for John's place in the Guinness book and saving a space for him among the year's memorable characters. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Reminiscent of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this work is a worthy successor to Hyland's critically acclaimed first novel, How the Light Gets In. Set in 1972, the novel relates the moving and troubling tale of John Egan's 11th year. Egan lives in Gorey, in southeast Ireland, with his mother, father, and grandmother. They coexist in a tenuous domestic peace threatened by resentment between the adults and Egan's confusion about others' shifting expectations of him. Hyland credibly evokes Egan's agony in a plaintive, perplexed, resolute, and, at times, smug voice. Convinced that he possesses the "gift of lie detection," Egan tests people to prove their truthfulness. Yet he himself stretches the truth in order to defend himself and exert some control over swiftly deteriorating personal circumstances. Egan's truth experiments ultimately culminate in cruelty and violence. Whether his family's love exonerates Egan remains ambiguous, but he does revise his rigid notions of truth to include the necessity of omission and the grace of leaving some things unsaid. Recommended for public and academic libraries. John G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

EAN: 9781921145094
ISBN: 1921145099
Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
All Reviews
This deeply frustrating story follows a precocious and very tall boy who becomes convinced that he is a human lie detector and ignores the human cost of his quest as it alienates those around him. I kept reading hoping that there would be some sort of profound revelation, but its all rather sordid and nasty, not to mention depressing and in truth quite predictable.

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