4 out of 4 stars
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The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid by Gary Robinson is divided into three parts. The first part follows the life of Duke Reynolds, the sword swallower, and the second part is about Gary Robinson, the Chico kid. The third part brings the two characters together and discusses their impact on each other.
Duke Reynolds lives for the rush and the adrenaline whenever he performs at the circus or out in the streets. He is especially known for his sword-swallowing skills, but is able to do other performances like fire-breathing or acting as a human blockhead. However, his severe alcohol addiction often gets him into trouble and even lands him in jail. On the other hand, Gary Robinson peaked in high school as the well-liked, funny student body president at Central Valley High. However, his alcohol addiction mixed with his outgoing personality lead him to a dangerous path where all he does is party and drink. All throughout college, he rarely attends class and spends most of his days drinking and partying with friends. Once he graduates college, he realizes that he has not learned a thing in college and resorts to picking up odd jobs to get by. As his life continues in a downward spiral, he starts to lose hope until he meets Duke Reynolds.
The author takes his time in developing the characters and really bringing out their faults and insecurities. What I liked best about this book is that even though Gary has a severe alcohol addiction and does things that are very shocking, I was still rooting for him. Although it seemed like Gary was always drinking, I found his character to be likable and humorous at times. Moreover, I found the interaction between Gary and Duke to be light-hearted and funny even though they were going through some serious problems.
This book is not for those who like action-packed thrillers. It focuses mostly on the characters and their development throughout the book. There is a lot of alcoholism, drugs, and nudity mentioned throughout the book. However, there is humor, especially in the dialogue between Gary, Duke, and to the other characters that they interact with. In the parts where Gary and Duke talk a lot about social and religious issues, I found the dialogue to be simple and not at all out of place.
Overall, I rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars. I noticed a few errors, but they didn’t detract from the book. Other than that, there wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about the book. I would recommend this book to those who like character-driven stories and are not bothered reading about alcoholism or drugs.
The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid
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