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Carry Me Down

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,136 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
John Egan is a misfit — "a twelve year old in the body of a grown man with the voice of a giant" — who diligently keeps a "log of lies." John's been able to detect lies for as long as he can remember, it's a source of power but also great consternation for a boy so young. With an obsession for the Guinness Book of Records, a keenly inquisitive mind, and a kind of faith, Jo ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Canongate (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 13, 2010 Greg rated it liked it
I told Karen part way through this book that she would like it. At the time there was something dark and creepy about the book and it felt kind of like Liz Jensen or Ali Smith novels can feel at times. The only thing is that the creepy feeling and foreshadowing never really come to much here. Or they do but not in a way that I found dark enough.

The book works best when it feels like it is building up to something. The story that is told from the perspective from an adult sized twelve year old.
Feb 11, 2009 David rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
Carry Me Down by M.J. Hyland.

I was referred to M.J. Hyland, an author I hadn't previously heard of, by the algorithm at I found this book quite disturbing when I read it, so much so that I felt I needed some distance before I could articulate my thoughts about it in a review.

A couple of months later, I think I have a better understanding of why I found the book so disturbing. Some basic information about the book: it's a first-person account, in the voice of 12-year old John Egan,
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 08, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010)
A somewhat different reading experience. The prose is simple and it slowly builds up into something dark and scary, then it just fritters away. However, when you finally close the book, you are left satisfied although you know you did not reach the climax because there is none.

John Egan is an 11-y/o Irish boy who is an only child. His father has not worked for 3 years so he and his parents live with his grandmother, his father's mother. Her grandmother lives with his husband's money and she spe
Mar 07, 2011 jo rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents of teenagers, ex-troubled teens
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Allie Riley
Feb 21, 2016 Allie Riley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Egan family are dysfunctional to say the least of it. And it is John, the precocious eleven-year-old boy who narrates who appears to have the most problems. It seems highly likely from what transpires, in fact, that he is mentally ill in some way.

His parents, Helen and Michael, and he live with his grandmother, in Gorey (in County Wexford, Ireland). John is obsessed with the Guinness Book of Records and believes himself to be adept at detecting lies. He spends his spare time reading up on th
Sep 02, 2010 Andy rated it did not like it
I am not going to be an a$$hole about this book. I am not going to say it was written poorly (because it wasn't). I'm not going to say that the story wasn't interesting (because it kind of was). I'm not going to say that Hyland does not have the chops to be a great writer (not that she isn't already). What I will say is that the book is one of the most inane, preposterous, and lame stories I have ever read. This is seriously weird because Hyland first novel, How the Light Gets In was really good ...more
Dec 09, 2015 Alessandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peguei esse livro no sebo sem nunca ter ouvido falar dele e sem ter ideia do que se tratava. Cara, que surpresa! Adoro histórias adultas que tenham crianças como protagonistas, e essa despedaçou meu coração. Escrita deliciosa e enredo envolvente e tenso. Fiquei muito apaixonada por todos os personagens e me preocupei muito com eles. Recomendo :)
Betty  Cooper
Mar 27, 2008 Betty Cooper rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: boys, perhaps they'd connect more readily to the main character.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 09, 2008 Lynn rated it it was ok
I really only perservered with this book because we're discussing it at my book club. Despite all the reviews full of praise for this one, I found it dreary, stark and uninspiring. Hyland's definitely a talented writer, but I couldn't empathise with any of the main characters and found myself 'dragged down' by the unremitting bleakness of this book.
It might be a 'worthy' read, but it certainly wasn't for me.
Jun 12, 2014 Yami rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
what the hell did I just read what was the point of all of it....!!!!!
I kept reading about this kid john and that weird family of his, and I was waiting for something to happen some twist, something to make it for me reading all of this narrating, some point to reach into, but instead it was a story about a weird kid, who thinks he is a living lie detector,who has a crazy matching parents , who lived with content under the roof of his grandma, then moved for some reason in the story, have their
Jun 06, 2013 Sandy rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, ya
I really wondered what I had read when I finished reading this book. Yes, this is a book about John and he really believes he has the talent to detect when other people are lying. He is dead-set on getting into the Guinness Book of World Records because he wants to be famous and this theme runs throughout the whole book. He lives with his da, his mother and other relatives as he tries to live his normal 12- year old life but as I am reading this book, I am wondering, what is normal? Does John fi ...more
Oct 10, 2007 Dave rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of "Extremely Loud..." and "The Curious Incident..."
"Carry Me Down" begins so strongly, with such a profoundly fascinating protagonist, the letdown at the conclusion was probably inevitable. Young John Egan is one of the creepiest child characters I've read, and he made reading seemingly innocuous scenes very uncomfortable for me. It's clear from the start that things are going to go very, very wrong for the Egan family, and that John will probably have a lot to do with that.

But when the "very wrong" does happen, it happens quickly, and is over
Nomadic SA Chick's Book Reviews

John is a young boy who isn't the most popular, but he does okay at school. Things are okay at home too, but he knows there is a lot of stress between his parents and his fathers mother. His life is turned upside down when his parents move him from their sleepy town, living with his grandmother, to the bustling city, far away from his friends, his most loved teacher, and his grandmother. John struggles to find himself in his new environment, always on the v
Jan 20, 2016 Kristel rated it liked it
The book was written in 2006 by Hyland, a female author born in London of Irish parents. She was born in 1968 so that makes her 38 at the time she wrote this book. Maybe she was influenced by Edna O'Brien's book. The story is of an 11 year old soon to be 12 boy who lives with his father, mother and grandmother in Gorey, Ireland. He is different than other children. John Egan is big for his age. He is an only child and he is fascinated with the Guinness Book of World Records and would like to vis ...more
Jayne Charles
May 15, 2012 Jayne Charles rated it it was amazing
The best thing about this book was its narrator John, an overly tall 11-year-old who eats sandwiches pretty much constantly, and who believes himself to be an infallible lie-detector. The author cleverly retreats into the background and allows the voice of her protagonist, with his many eccentricities and insecurities, take centre stage. It's a great piece of writing. One minute I was admiring the measured way John handles bullying, and the next I was thinking: crikey, this is one disturbed kid. ...more
Dec 29, 2012 christa rated it really liked it
John Egan is a man-sized, child-aged lie detector and has been sending letters to the folks at Guinness Books to share his special skill. He most often gets to test his ability on his moody, big talk-little action father, whose lies end with John Egan getting physically ill. This self-ascribed specialness is John’s single safety pocket in a world where he struggles to find common ground with his father, has a borderline creepy relationship with his mother and his classmates know him as the freak ...more
Oct 11, 2009 Brendan rated it it was ok
hylands 2nd book. i read her most recent one first (This Is How), which pushed me to read this. reckon if i read this first, maybe wouldnt have been SO madkeen about This Is How. cos she hasnt developed much in terms of style or content. even tho this is about an 11 yr old irish kid with height issues convinced of his talent for detecting lies, and This Is How is about an older bloke who lives in a seaside dormitory, who, due to his own headfuckedness, SUDDENLY kills the dude across the hall, th ...more
Apr 30, 2008 Lostinanovel rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eileen Horgan
Jul 16, 2015 Eileen Horgan rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Absolutely no one
Shelves: avoid, boring
This book was short listed for the Man Booker prize... so I read it. Hugely disappointing as it just didn't go anywhere - meandering around from Wexford to to Ballymun flats just like the thoughts of young John rambled around. No conclusion to the non existent plot line, just a tremendously boring, depressing story. I was so sickened to repeatedly read accounts of him picking an open wound on his head and other dreary stories regarding his obvious mental illness, the completely irrelevant refere ...more
Jan 30, 2015 Avinash rated it really liked it
It kick-starts with a very personal touch and is intriguing. The author has managed to take us on a journey of how a dysfunctional 11 year old would feel vicariously. Although I loved the way ideas have been presented, it still is weird and the dénouement leaves us feeling empty inside.
Though not a book worth re-reading but definitely worth a read. Go ahead an enjoy the book -or not.
Ilyhana Kennedy
Sep 12, 2015 Ilyhana Kennedy rated it liked it
It's not easy to stick with this book. The prose is in the simple sentences of an eleven year old boy whose mind does not function within acceptable parameters of reality.
John's relationships with his parents are disturbing. His life is one of utter desolation. The prose in simple sentences can tend to utter boredom, no doubt mirroring John's inner state, but it makes for hard going for the reader.
Why did I keep reading? I wanted to see where this story would lead, what it had to offer. It didn'
I love stories told from a child's perspective. When done well, they are emotional, imaginative and thoroughly satisfying. Having seen that Carry Me Down was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker, I settled down eagerly to enjoy it. I was very disappointed. The story was very undertold - by which I mean the fact that John knew so little of what was going on in his parents' lives, and so had so little of their story to tell us. An author writing from a child's viewpoint must either keep us entirely ...more
Iiris Onerva
Aug 21, 2014 Iiris Onerva rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-english
For entertainment purposes only, here's a rant/review I posted on my blog in 2010:

Lately, I've found myself fighting boredom with boredom. It's sad and infuriating, but reading boring, badly-written, tedious books comes much easier to me these days than anything even bordering on worthwhile or quality or any of those things I appreciate in literature.

My local library is a cottage the size of a small garage and seems to cater mainly chick-lit for stereotypical housewives, so I have to rummage the
Apr 25, 2011 Cathie rated it liked it
Shelves: finished
Even though this is a book written through the eyes of an eleven year old, I found it dark and troubling. The thoughts and feelings of John took my breath away. I'm confused about the boys relationship with is dad.
Glad it ended the way it did considering the options the story presented itself with. But it still leaves me wondering about the John as he grows up.
I'm giving it 3 stars because it's not something I would like to read again, but the writing of it was nice.
Aug 10, 2014 E rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Frank Parker
Oct 28, 2015 Frank Parker rated it it was amazing
Carry me Down by M.J.Hyland.

This is a stunning portrait of a couple's dysfunctionality through the eyes of their 11-year-old son. In John Egan, Hyland has created a totally believable account of what it is like to grow up as a child who knows he is different to his peers. And it is not just his exceptional height that makes him stand out. He has a 'gift' – he can tell when people are lying.

But are there times when the truth is best hidden? Is it always wise to reveal other people's secrets or ca
Jan 29, 2016 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-bymrbyd
John Egan is a young man who stands out from the other boys around him. He is larger than the normal 11 year old and he is obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records. John already looks grown up but his attitudes and actions are still trying to catch up. He is beginning to feel the stirrings of youth and is struggling with emotions he doesn't understand. He is confused by the changes he sees in his parents and the relationships between themselves and with his grandmother. John has convince ...more
Mar 18, 2008 Sahar rated it liked it
Picked it up in a car and i couldnt put it down. Its not amazing, but somehow it just holds you. I felt like i was waiting for something to happen, but was glad it didnt. or maybe it was the long car ride with people i didnt know. they were nice though, in fact i liked them. this does relate to the book, by the way.
After reading This Is How, which I enjoyed immensely, my eagerness to read another book by Hyland dissipated by about page 50 of Carry Me Down. These two novels are so similar that it almost felt like I was reading the same book again. Both storylines have an unfortunate misfit protagonist with similar personalities (here it is an 11 year old boy), both have a similar significant event (albeit with different outcomes), settings are very similar, and the writing style is identical.

Another issue
Fiona Ayerst
Apr 20, 2014 Fiona Ayerst rated it really liked it
I find it hard to put down a book with fascinating and complex characters and this is one of those. The subject matter resonated with me and that added to my enjoyment of the book. At the end john returns the stationmaster - he believes finally that his petty theft caused all the bad to happen and that doing this will change his luck. He doesn't want to detect lies anymore. It's a perfect closure and rounds off the story. Some reviewers have said it fizzles and nothing happens in the end but I d ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Carry me Down by M.J. Hyland 2 11 Sep 18, 2015 10:48PM  
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M.J. Hyland was born in London to Irish parents in 1968 and spent her early childhood in Dublin. She studied English and law at the University of Melbourne, Australia and worked as a lawyer for several years. Her first novel, How the Light Gets In (2003) was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Age Book of the Year and also took third place in the Barnes & Noble, Discover G ...more
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