(David Fickling Books)
Raphael, Gardo and Jun-Jun are dumpsite boys. They spend all day sorting through piles of rubbish and the huge landfill site which is also their home, hoping to find, amongst the human excrement, bits and bobs that they can sell on. When Raphael finds a small leather pouch containing some money as well as some other items, they think they have hit the jackpot and found their way out of the dumpsite. But things are never that easy and they find themselves involved in something much darker than they could have ever expected.
There is no denying the fact that Trash is a poignant, heart wrenching story. Through the pages of this book the reader witnesses every day life in the slums surrounding the dumpsite, bringing a really honest account of life in the poorer parts of South America (there is no specific geographical reference to where the story is set but the author worked and lived in Manila and got some of his inspiration from the slums there) But it is also a rollercoaster thriller and I was not expecting that! There are some real sitting-on-the-edge-in of-your-seat moments in there!
The story itself is told by multiple narrators which I thought helped bring great depth to the story, specifically when told by the more peripheral characters such as Sister Olivia. The story is like a puzzle and each contribution adds an extra piece to the narration, helping to create an overall picture and make sense of the quite intricate story. It is a very clever book, which is never preachy, but offers a very interesting social commentary, specifically on corruption and its consequences on society and its welfare.
It is quite heartbreaking but although I felt very touched by the boys’ story, I don’t think that the author wants readers to feel sorry for Raphael, Gardo and Jun-Jun. I think that rather he wanted to showcase their strength, their bravery and their lack of selfishness first and foremost. And, without giving too much away, there is hope at the end of the book. Nevertheless, reading Trash is a humbling experience; one needs to be reminded every so often that life is not easy for everyone, and I think teenagers are often more receptive to this than we give them credit for. I think the targeted audience will enjoy the intrigue which unfolds within the pages as well the window into the world of dumpsite and street children.
I thoroughly enjoyed Trash. When I first finished it, I thought it was OK. But it took a few days for the effect of the story to dawn on me really. It is a very clever and well-written book, which will not leave you unmoved or unaffected.