Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Carry Me Down by M.J. Hyland

Carry Me Down (original 2006; edition 2006)

by M.J. Hyland

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8163711,155 (3.37)87
Title:Carry Me Down
Authors:M.J. Hyland
Info:Canongate Books Ltd (2006), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, Booker, Ireland, 1970s

Work details

Carry Me Down by M. J. Hyland (2006)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 87 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
M. J. Hyland’s novel of a young Irish boy growing up in domestic turmoil is poignant, moving, and well-written. If, like me, you suffered similar domestic turmoil in your own childhood, there’s a lot here you’re going to relate to. And I did, not least because the first-person narrator is my namesake.

It takes a special kind of writer to construct a novel so that, in sinking into the sea of prose, you find yourself immersed in the narrator’s world. Hyland’s prose does just that. From the very opening lines, you are in John’s world and seeing things shaped by his own understanding of them or, more often, his lack of understanding.

And there is much John does not understand. This I found so evocative of what childhood is all about. You start life from a place of such supreme ignorance that even when you can look back on those days 30, 40, or more years later, you still really don’t understand what happened. This is especially the case when there are domestic issues that your family are trying to hide from you.

It’s easy for us as adults to recognise the signs in his parents’ relationship and John’s own response to them that indicate that all is not well between them or in the mind of the child. But to John, there is little to go on. That little, though, is enough. John becomes convinced that he has the ability to detect lies in ways that other people simply cannot. Hyland constructs the novel so very well that even though your adult side says that it’s surely just an emotional response to his doubts about the stability of his family life, there’s still a little child inside each of us that hopes that what John believes is really true. Thankfully, we never get a definitive answer.

John’s family are forced through their circumstances to leave their rural Ireland and relocate to Dublin and that’s where things start to go from bad to worse. The anxiety and stress of their new life affects each of the them in turn but your view is constantly coloured by the fact that you only get John’s point of view.

So many authors successfully create the childhood viewpoint but then forget that even six months in a child’s life is a decade to an adult. Hyland does not. Instead, she does a great job of creating a flow of development of John’s thinking and emotional response throughout the novel. I found this fascinating. At the same time, you see his relationships with both parents also change, particularly in the aftermath of certain crises.

I would have enjoyed this novel a lot in print, but this is a great example of how audiobooks can just add an extra dimension to literature. I listened to this on Audible and absolutely loved the thick Irish accent of Gerard Doyle. ( )
  arukiyomi | Dec 17, 2016 |
I was instantly engaged and finished the book quite quickly. John, a mentally handicapped young boy lives in a rural area in Ireland with his grandmother, mother, and father. His father, disappointed in life and the circumstances in which he finds himself and his family, assaults his mother, who tells Michael’s family to leave. They do and take up residence in a dreary, low income housing project in Dublin, where John is beset by bullies and worry over his mother who has fallen into a deep depression. Eventually, John is sent to a juvenile detention centre but within days is released into the care of his parents who have been invited back to live with John’s grandmother. The story ends flatly with significant unresolved issues which will return to haunt them all. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
John is a 12 year-old Irish boy living in a struggling family (struggling emotionally and financially). This book is told from his perspective. He is perhaps overly attached to his mother, distant from his father and detached from others. He is picked on at school for both his unusually large size and an incident that occurs later in th book.

My rating is a 2.5. This is not my kind of book. While it was a quick and fairly easy read, I did not enjoy the story, the characters or the over the top Freudian symbolism. The use of the adolescent male perspective was different and made you think about what was real vs. what was the boy's interpretation. Overall, I found it disturbing and unpleasant and it is not book i'd recommend to my friends. ( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Written from the perspective of an 11year old boy, this novel explores what life was like for an adolescent in rural Ireland. The narrator is very unreliable and the emotions in the book are stretched. I personally didn't care much for this but am sure others will think it's fantastic. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
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. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors

Stewart Andrew Muir

(if only there were more like you)
First words
It is January, a dark Sunday in winter, and I sit with may mother and father at the kitchen table.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

John Egan is a misfit, a 12 year old in the body of a grown man with the voice of a giant who insists on the ridiculous truth. With an obsession for the Guinness Book of Records and faith in his ability to detect when adults are lying, John remains hopeful despite the unfortunate cards life deals him.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
32 avail.
43 wanted
2 pay6 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.37)
0.5 1
1 7
1.5 2
2 18
2.5 13
3 65
3.5 24
4 69
4.5 10
5 15


3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Canongate Books

An edition of this book was published by Canongate Books.

» Publisher information page

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 111,773,079 books! | Top bar: Always visible