With an obsession for the Guinness Book of World Records, a keenly inquisitive mind, and a kind of faith, John is like a tuning fork, sensitive to the vibrations within himself and his family's shifting dynamics.
From his changing voice, body, and psyche to his parents' disheartening marital difficulties, this is a trying year in a fragile young boy's life, and when his sanity reaches near collapse, a frightening family catastrophe threatens to ruin what little they have.
Carry Me Down is a restrained, emotionally taut, and sometimes outrageously funny portrait whose drama drives toward, but narrowly averts, an unthinkable disaster.
"A spare, piercing testimony to the bewilderment and resiliency of youth....[John is] among the year's memorable characters." (Publishers Weekly)
"Hyland demonstrates a mature sense of characterization and suspense in a thoroughly engaging narrative." (Kirkus Reviews)
This novel is an amazing glimpse of the mind and thoughts of a very young character. The protagonist, an 11 year old boy with a body approaching puberty, a deep voice, and a surprising ability to detect lying statements, is a real misfit. At times his thoughts and behavior seem more like that of a 5 year old; at other times; at other times one can glimpse maturity approaching. He is almost always jealous of his "space", is dreadfully worried about being mistreated or taken for granted, and is somewhat paranoid. I would have given it a higher rating, but the book does not show any real growth of the boy, and it ends with a contrived happy ending. There are also some loose threads - his relationship with the one teacher he liked, but the becomes suspicious of, for instance.
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I'm confused about the last line of the book (SPOILER WARNING):
"The door is open." What does that mean? why did the author end it so mysteriously? Also, what does the title mean?
Otherwise, the book is great. I liked John Egan, and could identify with his angst and real troubles from my own boyhood. His focus on lies was fascinating, and I found his "Gol of Seil" very funny.
It is a good book, but it has no conclusion. Very unsatisfying in that last sentence, which makes me wonder why I spent so much time listening.
It just doesn't *end*.
Hyland's novel of a growing Irish boy struggling to come to terms with the emotional vicissitudes of adolescence is both eerie and endearing all at once. with excellent narration, this is one you can absolutely lose yourself in. well worth it.
I bought this thinking it must be good if it was shortlisted for 3 book prizes, despite the poor ratings it had already received. I was wrong. It is slow and tedious and generated in me no sympathy with its characters. It could have been severely edited with benefit. If it hadn't been read so well I wouldn't have persevered to the end but the reader was excellent.