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Trash Hardcover – October 12, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7-10–Three young teens, trash-picker living in the city dump of an unnamed third-world country, discover a mysterious bag one morning, triggering a chain of events that will change their lives forever. Raphael, Gordo, and Rat take turns nar-rating the story of how they uncover a network of political corruption and abuse of the poor. Each puzzle the boys solve leads to yet a new riddle for them to work out. The chase leads them throughout the city, exposing the great disparity be-tween the “haves” and the “have nots,” and the huge injustice this represents. Several run-ins with the police make it clear that getting caught means death for the three boys. They face moral dilemmas throughout and, ultimately, make good deci-sions. Their intelligence and characters make the condition in which they live seem even more unfair. While on the surface the book reads like a fast-paced adventure title, it also makes a larger statement about the horrors of poverty and injustice in the world. Occasionally the alternating viewpoints of the book become confusing, particularly when they switch mid-chapter. In spite of this, Trash is a compelling read. The action is riveting and the secret codes throughout will appeal mys-tery fans. Readers will be drawn to this title, and hopefully learn a little about the world outside their own country. Teens who enjoyed the film Slumdog Millionaire (2008) will find much to enjoy here.Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In an unnamed Third World city, Rat, Raphael, and Gardo live with thousands of other kids like them in a garbage dump, where they dig through the detritus looking for anything that could be profitable. When an important person loses something valuable in the refuse, the three boys embark on an engrossing, sobering mystery characterized by stealing, lying, and police brutality as well as generosity, trust, and ingenuity. Multiple characters describe the adventure, and although the switch between narrators may initially seem disorienting (a priest, housemother, and tombstone maker also provide their integral perspectives), the story flows more smoothly as it progresses, bolstered by the young characters’ well-articulated, authentic thoughts, feelings, and voices. Throughout, the boys’ significant sense of devotion and morality leads them from lives of desperation to miraculous possibilities. The culminating scenes contribute important elements of Day of the Dead celebrations and Robin Hood themes, further increasing the novel’s usefulness for discussion and study. Grades 6-9. --Andrew Medlar

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books; 1St Edition edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385752148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385752145
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,014,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Mum J on October 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's been 4 days since I read this book and I can't get it out of my mind. I'm not a regular reviewer, but I feel so compelled to write my thoughts after reading "Trash".

I have young kids and we are fortunate enough to be able to live a comfortable life. I've lived in Manila, Philippines where the author lives part-time and teaches. While I have traveled to many First World countries, I have also been to the Manila dumpsite, the one that is called Smokey Mountain which is the same name used by the author for his story's setting. Oh yes, there has been a real Smokey Mountain dumpsite.

Let me just share a bit of non-fiction to those who haven't been to this place yet to give you a sense of my perspective.

When I first visited the dumpsite, what first struck me was the enormity of this "mountain" of trash and the strong foul stench everywhere. As I walked, I noticed the springy feeling in my steps then realized I had not been walking on concrete pavement but on a very compact heap of trash thickened over the years. This dumpsite was literally a hill or a mountain and hundreds of families stay here. Adults and children walked about as if this was just an ordinary village. I wondered how these people ever manage to breathe, work and live healthily here 24/7. It is a scene one will not forget.

After interviewing a family for a project which was the reason I was there, the family insisted on cooking my group a meal. Being aware of their meager income, we did our best to politely refuse, but it came to a point that for us to refuse more would be deemed insulting to our host who surprisingly, had shown a sense of fierce dignity in their humble 3 meter x 3 meter home and in their work (i.e. picking trash).
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. Leigh on November 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read the little blurb for this book, and it said the book was aimed at 7-9 year old children*. Upon reading it to my children, I quickly realized that "Trash" is clearly targeted with preteens in mind, perhaps 12 or 13-year olds. There is a little bit of profanity, and there is a lot of subject matter that is very mature. My 4 and 9-year old children did not appreciate this book whatsoever, it went way over their heads.

However, I enjoyed it. Set in an unnamed country in a possible distant future, this heartbreaking novel about young children who live and scavenge in a dump is unlike many other books I've read in my lifetime. It's told from several perspectives, and some of the events that happen are really sad, much more so when you recall the main characters are young children. If you've got older children, I highly recommend it. It will a very unique exception to anything else they have probably read. It's a good read for adults as well.

*Clearly, I cannot be trusted to accurately comprehend anything on the Internet when I haven't had enough coffee OR sleep. The 7-9 wasn't an age demographic, it was a GRADE demographic. I stand way corrected. Carry on.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erika (YA Lit Crave) on March 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Trash is a great mystery novel for younger readers, but what is most important about this book is how it really portrayed the horrors of poverty very well. It is very accurate with regards to the poverty and life at a dump site, as its inspiration came from the author's experiences traveling to the slums of Manila. It's heartbreaking and disturbing that children actually live in such poverty today. However, other than than I have a few complaints. First, part of the story line seemed very far-fetched. It is part of the ending, so I won't give it away; but that was kind of disappointing since the rest of the book was so realistic. Second, the chapters changed narrators every few chapters, and even at times every chapter, and that got very confusing. It made the book not have a unified voice, and sometimes it took me a while to figure out who was talking. Other than that, it is an interesting read, and I recommend you give it a shot.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Seek Felicity TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Enter Behala, a place where livelihood is dependent upon what is thrown away. Those who live here are born in the trash and when they die can expect to become part of the trash. It is a place where people construct houses made of old tries and string. It is located in a country where corruption is rampant and lying is a tactic for survival.

The primary characters are a charismatic, adventurous trio of young boys living in Behala. Their story is not one of war or natural disaster. They live in the sad place of Behala and they have stumbled upon a mystery that could allow them to escape the trash.

Considering that the majority of those in the United States lack a passport, books like this add value to a classroom. I've been to some places in third world countries that are the substance of nightmares. These are places that make places like Gary, Detroit, and other U.S. cities look like vacation destinations. Most U.S. kids, even those who live in poverty, cannot relate to what others around the world must face on a daily basis to survive. This is a gritty book and it can be shocking and uncomfortable. It is intended for children ages 12 and up but I would say that the writing level and content is appropriate for fifth graders. While entertaining for YA readers, there are important topics that a teacher or parent should discuss with kids, including: poverty, bribery, corruption, thievery, lying and trust. Also viable for discussion are questions surrounding environmental responsibility, the role of the United States in the governance of other countries and family composition.

Some may wonder how many liberties the author took with his subject of choice. Certainly they are a few in the storyline.
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