Customer Review

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is john so eccentric or mad??, 21 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Carry Me Down (Paperback)
This novel held me in thrall for all its pages. These passed too quickly, except for the excruciating pain of the move to the project slum in Dublin, with its unforgettable stench and filth- particularly the scenes around the elevator and the gang bullying.These were so vivid and real that each second dragged by painfully.I found John totally believable and not nearly as weird or eccentric as others have. I find John's reactions to his world a credible and deeply moving reaction to the adults that stifle his creativity and his peers that reject him when he behaves differently to the norm- or simply because he matures early and is a target for bullying and derision. His hopes to make his mark in the world and achieve something beyond the moribund pretensions of his father fuels an obsessive need to excel and be noticed.This is so common a need in teenagers as to be a cliche.John's methods may be unusual but his motivation is a deeply innate part of the individuation process essential but so painful during adolescence.That he chooses lie detection as his "gift" perfectly reflects the role he takes in the family- as the go between from his mother's sensual and imaginative life and his father's closed intellectualism and his granny's cloying possessiveness.John understands his purpose in life is to reveal the truth- like all art at its highest levels. Taking on this role is a potential minefield, and explosions abound.

John's mother's lively encouragement of his imagination and creativity, reflecting her own love of fantasy and theatre, add to this explosive mix, and his sensual attachment to her is poignantly expressed , as are his other emerging sexual feelings.The betrayal of Brendan is keenly observed by Hyland, and the claustraphobic intensity of the shed scene was unforgettable.Kate makes for a villain of operatic proportions.

Tragically, just as Mr Roche- a potentially redemptive and inspirational force for good in John's life arrives on the scene, his father's failure to provide any stability for his family ruptures John's hopes of finding acceptance and self esteem through the new school experiences.The later appearance of a more subdued and flattened Mr Roche was disturbing- a teasing inclusion, perhaps left a little too loose ended....No ideal saviour was to be provided in this novel, all are compromised by the world that refuses acceptance to the illfitting pegs...

Life in Dublin is a nightmare of terrifying proportions.John's earlier life appears as a paradise by comparison. Hyland paints this ghoulish world of the ugly ordinariness of poverty and ignorance unflinchingly. How a boy of John's sensitivity survives at all is surprising. His mother almost capitulates to the horrors and his father is dragged into the dark meaninglessness all too easily.While John's actions to save/destroy his mother in her depressed despair are shocking, the ultimate result saves the whole family.Like a bushfire that regenerates, John's desperate act transforms his life and his parents'.By at last realising the catastrophic damage their actions have reeked on John's mind, they burst into positive action to save John's future- and their own. One can only hope that Hyland is not overly optimistic about John's future, unfairly cast as he is as the guilty party .After so much damage has been done,one hopes his resiliance and intelligence will win through.The ending promises hope and redemption- a brave move in a world that so often preaches only doom and hopelessness.
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3.7 out of 5 stars (40 customer reviews)
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Location: sydney, Australia

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