September 2010 - David Fickling Books
Mild violence (graphic) occasionally
Reviewed by : Mina Ademovic
Random House Description
In an unnamed Third World country, in the not-so-distant future, three “dumpsite boys” make a living picking through the mountains of garbage on the outskirts of a large city.
One unlucky-lucky day, Raphael finds something very special and very mysterious. So mysterious that he decides to keep it, even when the city police offer a handsome reward for its return. That decision brings with it terrifying consequences, and soon the dumpsite boys must use all of their cunning and courage to stay ahead of their pursuers. It’s up to Raphael, Gardo, and Rat—boys who have no education, no parents, no homes, and no money—to solve the mystery and right a terrible wrong.
Andy Mulligan has written a powerful story about unthinkable poverty—and the kind of hope and determination that can transcend it. With twists and turns, unrelenting action, and deep, raw emotion, Trash is a heart-pounding, breath-holding novel.
My first thought upon picking this book up was that the cover certainly was intriguing. I opened it up and the voice of Raphael captured me from the first page. This young boy grew up at a dumpsite "village" and he worked by going through the trash that was dumped there. Everyone in the community worked at this dumpsite and everyday they dug for treasure. The saying, one man's trash is another man's treasure, couldn't have rung more true than in this story.
Andy Mulligan wove together a heart capturing tale of three young boys by letting them tell their own stories. Some other significant characters made their own contributions as well so that the reader is given a more "whole" experience.
Raphael, Gardo and Rat, all very bright children, used investigative techniques to figure out what happened to the man whose wallet they had found in the dumpsite. They not only put themselves at great risk, but also the whole community. Raphael and the reader soon learn that law enforcement personnel have very little regard for "trash" and that the complex government they'd known so little of before included a corrupted vice president.
In a race against the police, the boys hunt for more clues as they slowly reveal the story of the man whose wallet they had found and what really happened to him.
Mulligan's book has the capability to soften your hearts to the point of aching with the story of these boys. His writing reaches an all-powerful point when Raphael is taken in for interrogation. I had to bite my tongue to keep from crying out, and remind myself it's only a work of fiction. There is no doubt that it is hard to read of such cruelty, especially when it is told from the voice of an innocent boy, Raphael, as he perceives it. "I could see he was weighing me, looking me over, wondering what, if anything, I was worth. Valuable or trash? To be kept here and beaten and beaten . . . or thrown away?"
This book brings up many points for discussion such as the treatment of those in lower social classes as well as how civillians take fixing corruption into their own hands. It also does an excellent job of illustrating just how important mission schools are to children in third world countries who are living in poverty. With Mulligan's background (as stated in his Bio on the back flap of the book and on the publisher's website) it is not surprising that he chose to write such a powerful book. His experience teaching in many countries contributes to the strength of the message in the story.
A great work of writing here from Mulligan. However, I get the feeling that he could have better organized the story. The beginning was a bit on the rough side and the pace there was rather quick compared to the rest of the book. Also, there probably were better ways of integrating the viewpoints of other characters than the choppy journal-entry-like format used.
Excellent piece and definitely worth reading. I would recommend it for 12+ due to the powerful content. If interested, more information about Trash can be found here via Random House.