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Carry Me Down
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1001 book reviews > Carry Me Down by M.J. Hyland

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Diane  | 2042 comments 2.5 stars


This is a story of an adolescent Irish boy who thinks he is a human lie detector. The main character is quite odd and somewhat unlikable. A disturbing episode of animal cruelty early on made me really want to abandon the book (I realize it is a work of fiction, but that was hard to take). The rest of the story seemed entertaining enough and did hold my interest most of the time. It felt as though it was building toward something, but then totally failed to deliver in the end. Overall, not one of my favorites from the list. Not sure why it is even on the list.


message 2: by Jen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
I think I also gave it 2.5. I can't remember but I do remember not enjoying it


Gail (gailifer) | 1385 comments Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland
3 stars
A young half man/ half boy who is obsessed with lies and lying without being able to tell what motivations might drive the human quirk of white lies, is the main character and narrator of this taunt and claustrophobic book. With only the one point of view from this young narrator the reader is locked into the 11 year old’s complete incomprehension regarding his family, friends and himself. He does not know what it is that makes him so constantly unsettled, how he desperately wants security and love without ever mentioning either even once because he does not know that is what he is missing. He trusts nothing and sees the world as only a huge source of potential humiliation. He believes he is a superior lie detector and yet tells lies while demanding that his parents can not modify their harsh and unsettled life in any way with anything but the absolute truth. His parents appear to be constantly changing but we only have our narrator’s insights and they are not enough. The reader is caught in our narrator’s willful ignorance. The whole time I was reading the book I was slightly nauseous which I suspect was the author’s intent. It was a book about everyday terrors which, by definition, do not resolve.


Kristel (kristelh) | 4108 comments Mod
read 2013; 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 visit Niagara. I thought the book was interesting. I found it engaging and easy to read. The flawed characters were interesting. The short bits of reading helped make the reading go fast. I do think the author may have overdid the freudian stuff and that in 1970's there might have been less emphasis on Freudian and more on interpersonal and family relationships so perhaps her psychological stuff was a bit off. Asperger's really wasn't the thing then either but the character of John sure was more autistic spectrum. I suppose he really was just neurotic because his parents were a mess. I think the author failed to develop some points of the story. I thought page 100, "My head, as though filled with helium has nothing in it to carry me down to rest, to dark, down to sleep. " (referring to the title) never got fully developed. *****potential spoiler**** Yet, in the scene where the mother can't sleep, John is seen trying to assist his mother to the dark, down to sleep.****spoiler over***** I give the story 3.5 stars. I think that I will remember this story.


Patrick Robitaille | 933 comments ***
Ireland, in the 70s. An 11-year old little giant with an unhealthy obsession about the Guinness Book of Records and lie detection; an unambitious, mostly unemployed Mensan father who also ends up being a philanderer and a tad too angry; a melancholy mother who loves her son too much and can't seem to see what's going on around her. A perfect recipe for things falling apart and getting worse; yet the ending seems too improbable, despite all the troubles this family has experienced throughout the story. Narrated mostly through the boy's point of view, it's a sad, slow and at times boring story, which leaves you thinking that not much good could happen in Ireland.


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