240 pages (hardback)
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. (from barnesandnoble.com)
Wow. I don’t think I ever felt so fortunate to live where I do and have the opportunities I have had then after reading Trash.
Andy Mulligan vividly describes life in a third world country where the only hope hundreds of people have of survival is to dig through garbage day after day. It is suspected that the setting is based on the Philippines where Mulligan was a teacher for a while, but we will probably never know for sure. It is nearly impossible to NOT see pictures or images of children in third world nations when watching TV or read about situations in Somalia, Haiti, and other places. However, Mulligan doesn’t just describe the scene; he gives these poor children names and personalities and makes you really care about them.
The story is told in first person from the point of views of all three main characters: Raphael, Gardo, and Rat. At first this was a bit confusing, but I think it was the best way to do the book because each boy could explain certain situations and things and I really felt connected to all three and not just one.
But this book is so much more than a book about impoverished children who dig through trash and find something cool. It is a story about friendship and trying to make a better life for oneself. It’s also a mystery and an action-packed drama with chase scenes and an eerie night in the cemetery. Readers will want to know what is so important about what Raphael found, why government leaders want to find it, and what 3 boys with little education or hope will do to save themselves.