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The Fire-Eaters (2003)
by David Almond
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440420121, Paperback)Continuing his tradition of strange and wild novels for young adults, David Almond, in The Fire Eaters, introduces a bizarre character making a sparse living as a self-mutilating, fire-swallowing street performer. McNulty's existence shakes young protagonist Bobby Burns to the core as he contemplates the end of the world (the year is 1962 and the U.S. and Soviet Union seem to be heading toward nuclear war), power, pain, class, and death, as well as friendship. The menace and sweetness in Bobby's life parallels the worlds, big and small, he inhabits. A loving family, seaside home, and good friends form the foundation. But a crack in that wall is spreading: Bobby's father is ill, class differences are separating him from his best friend, and a ruthless schoolmaster is forcing Bobby to understand that everything has a price. McNulty's growled refrain--"Pay! You'll not see nowt till you pay!"--reiterates the lesson for the often bewildered, but ever stronger boy. Readers familiar with Almond's other haunting books, including the award-winning Skellig, will welcome this rich, challenging novel. As always, Almond refuses to shy away from the big topics, resulting in a novel dappled with light and dark, filled with wonder and mystery. (Ages 12 and older) --Emilie Coulter
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:17 -0400)
In 1962 England, despite observing his father's illness and the suffering of the fire-eating Mr. McNulty, as well as enduring abuse at school the the stress of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Bobby Burns and his family and friends still find reasons to rejoice in their lives and to have hope for the future.
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