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
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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