Sunday, 5 May 2013

Carry Me Down, MJ Hyland

Why I read it: It was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2006

Podcasts: None

Brow: Upper middle

Summary: John is an 11 year old Irish boy living in some unspecified time before the advent of the internet or mobile phones in the 20th century. When the book starts, he's happily reading in the kitchen with his mum and dad during Christmas break. As the daylight wanes, his father stands up to drown some kittens and we learn that John and his parents are living tensely with John's grandmother, who is returning from the horse races later that day. As John watches his father kill the kittens, he comes to the striking realisation that he is psychic and can tell when people are lying. He spends the rest of the book trying to demonstrate his powers to the people around them and to contact the Guiness Book of World Records to get himself included. Meanwhile, the world around him collapses, which may be partially his fault.

What I liked about it: It's a very tense family drama about an odd 11 year old who doesn't quite understand what's going on around him, but whose actions nevertheless have an enormous impact on those around him.

What I didn't like about it: I was frustrated by the lack of information about the characters' motivations. For example, is John actually an 11 year old sociopath? The book doesn't answer the question. Maybe I'm too literal-minded, but I prefer my books to end unambiguously.

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