Jan 26, 2011

Trash by Andy Mulligan

I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of this book from Random House Australia.
I had read the first chapter which you can read at their website here,  and I knew I just simply had to find out what happened.

Trash is set in a dump site town. Where the kids spend all day crawling through rubbish and stuppa (human faeces) looking for recyclable pieces which they can sell in order to buy food.
Raphael and Gardo are best friends and they work side by side collecting little pieces each day. One day they find a bag containing a wallet, a map and a key and their lives are about to change forever.
Assisted by Jun-Jun (or Rat as he is known) a boy who lives on the fringes of their little society, an outcast among the outcasts, he is a boy who knows how to not be seen.
The boys must hide their find from prying eyes, as well as the police because they don't know who they can trust.
There are plenty of opportunities to talk to young adults in this novel, about poverty, education, police brutality and Government corruption. Although this is a YA novel, it can easily be enjoyed by adults. It builds tension enough that you are cheering for the boys and hoping for a good outcome.
The scene where the boys use the local school's computer reminded me of this talk by Sugata Mitra where he talks about how kids teach themselves.
I read one review which said that the novel had no strong female characters, which is sort of true. But hovering just from view, there in the background are the mothers and aunties, who feed and clothe these children as best they can, discipline them and try to make some kind of home life amid all that despair - and that sent a strong message to me.
I recommend this book. It tugs at your heart strings, but is a story that needs
 to be told.


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