Tuesday, October 03, 2006
98. "Carry Me Down" ~ M.J. Hyland
John Egan, an over-sized, over-tall eleven-year-old, is fascinated by the Guinness Book of World Records, claiming to himself and others that he will be found within its pages someday. When he finds a strange ability to sense when others are lying to him, John believes that this is the power to push him to success.
Fortunately for him, he has several people on whom to practice. His father, jobless for three years, claims to be studying for entrance exams, while his grandmother goes to the track and claims to return penniless. It is only his abnormally adored mother who retains some ability to speak honestly with John.
From the beginning, the mother-son relationship is a bit odd. He stares at her with open admiration; she asks him to stop, but later invites him to share her bed. Could be innocent, but it sets up a strange, suffocating partnership. At the climax, I felt betrayed, as if I hadn't been prepared for the shift in John's behavior, when, upon reflection, Hyland had made it obvious that this was an extremely dysfunctional family.
The understated prose style is entrancing, yet I found myself wondering about the precociousness of this fifth grader. World records = believable. Knowledge of law, physics, and mythology = not so much, especially with his mediocre academic situation.
Still, a mysterious, yet sickening read. Do not indulge if planning on having children any time in the near future.
3.0 out of 5.0 Downeasters.
Posted by Kristin at 7:48 PM