Trash (by Andy Mulligan)

25 04 2011

Trash is the story of 3 dumpsite boys, Raphael, Gardo and Rat, who live on the trash heaps of Behala and sort through it, hoping to find anything they can sell or recycle. Their lives are rugged, poverty stricken, unadventurous. This changes when the boys find something in the trash: a bag, with a key and a wallet. When the police show up to question them, even offer them money, the boys decide to evade the authorities to figure things out for themselves.

This books is clearly an obvious choice (maybe a bit too obvious) for class discussion in First World Country schools, where students often struggle to relate to what happens in a place like Behala. For younger teens it might very well be an eye-opener, or at least make them a bit uncomfortable about their cushy sheltered lives. At the same time there are a number of topics that are worthy of class discussion: poverty, bribery, corruption, moral ambiguity, environmental responsibility, etc.

On the other hand, the cat isn’t exclusively overjoyed here, as it’s really not the best written book, to be honest. The jumping to different narrators feels a bit  amateurish, even awkward. Some perspectives also don’t add anything to the overall concept or even readability of the book (e.g. Father Juilliard). I’d have much preferred to read exclusively from the boys’ point of view.

Anyway, it’s a good though fairly safe effort for a (young) teenage audience. Any attempt to  get kids thinking about their environment and the world they live in, deserves at least a couple of stars.

PS The cat can so see another Slumdog Millionaire in the making here… (didn’t much like that movie, btw).

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