Eleven-year-old John Egan is a mixture of imaginative child and curious, devious, and somewhat weird adolescent, growing up poor and lonely in 1970's Ireland. He dreams of becoming world-famous as a "human lie detector," but his pursuits of this talent manage to alienate and sometimes frighten everyone around him. With a jobless and self-delusional father, a mother spiraling into depression, and a best friend who abandons him for greener pastures, John is left with few resources apart from those inside his unreliable head, and the reader is led with John to the very edge of tragedy. A compelling read, and shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize.
First person account of a neurotic little adolescent 11-year-old boy, obsessed with the lies people tell and being able to detect them, to the point where he nearly destroys his family.
Its a page turner - the narration carries you right along, the characters are enjoyable (especially that badass substitute teacher Mr. Roche!). The atmosphere drips thick with anxiety, awkwardness and suspicion - this poor kid has a normal enough home, but is having trouble making the transition to adulthood, in that he craves the parental affections of his parents, while they are treating him as an adult before he is ready, with all the distance, formality, and relational complexity that it entails - and of course no one recognizes that this is the dynamic. The kid almost goes crazy, unable to handle being lied to in millions of small insignificant ways.
Its not just about the kid either. The other characters are very well fleshed out, and the story isnt just some case study, the story is like the story of every one of us, our small day to day existence, and all the insignificant things that are the engine of our lives and that define who we are. I loved every chapter, every page.