As I have always done, before I review a book I try to share to my readers what exactly motivated me to pick up that book and Carry Me Down is no exception. I was actually moved by the comment J.M Coetzee made about the book and having read ‘Disgrace’ by J.M Coetzee which was a good book in anyway, I actually knew that Carry me Down would be a good read. Another reason for reading this book is because it was short listed for The Man Booker Prize for the year 2006 and being a huge follower of the Booker Award, I had to read it at all cost. It took me only a day to read this book. It was actually a fast read. It has a simple sentences and the theme so strong.
The whole story spans around a 12 year old child, John Egan, who has a special gift for detecting lies and this compels him to write to the Guinness Book of Records on many occasions. In essence it is the little boy’s dream that the Guinness Book of Records would give him a chance to test his ability to read the mind’s of people and also to detect when people lie.
Interestingly, John Egan is too old for his age; in fact he is a man child who is huge and tall for his age. John Egan lives with his father, mother and grandmother in a small village in rural Ireland. Later on in the novel, we see John move with his father and mother to a council estate in Dublin where life changes for him. Incidents in the novel occur within a year in the life of John Egan.
I realized in the novel that John did not understand much of the things that were going on around him. However, he has a good eye and ear. He watches closely with what happens between his parents daily life.
By the end of the story, I felt the character of John Egan believable and so sympathize with him. I surely think that M.J Hyland is a good story teller and she has a strong ear for the behavior of a child like John Egan. I have come to realize that it is most often difficult to write a story with the narrator being a child because once a writer takes up that challenge, he or she has to submit himself or herself to the realities of a child’s behavior. M.J Hyland’s story is very simple on the surface because of its simple language but very deceptive. You have to read carefully to grasp the theme of the story well and also to understand the life of John Egan.
Would John get the call from the Guinness Book of Records by the end of the story? This was the question that kept occurring to me as I read the novel. So would you want to find out what happens to John Egan?
Go grab a copy. Readers would not be disappointed. It is a good story.