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Trash Hardcover – October 12, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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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 (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I was 19, I knew someone whose father was the ambassador for a Caribbean island. I was invited to spend a week at the ambassador's residence, in their guest cottage. This was in the capital, not the vacation areas - which is what US citizens normally think of associated with the Caribbean. I had no idea it would be one of the biggest shocks of my life. It changed my view of poverty forever.

I witnessed first-hand extremely well-off people - people with mansions, servants, every luxury you could imagine - living within 15-20 minutes from families whose houses were an 8 by 12 foot living area for 6 - 8 people, with only corrugated tin or cardboard for walls and a dirt floor. No running water, no WC...hundreds and hundreds we drove by, and nobody commented. I was appalled. This was 1980. I have no doubt the problem there, and in the Philippines, as well as many other places, continues. The one good thing that happened is that I started becoming more active in both how I donate and who I elect.

Every child in this country who has a problem because their parent hasn't bought them the latest video game, computer, piece of clothing...they need to read this.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A 14-year-old boy named Raphael, a “dumpsite boy,” finds a valuable item in the trash where he and his friends forage daily in hopes of collecting items to sell to survive. The item is valuable to a powerful person. He and his posse will go to great lengths to get it back. Initially, they’ve revealed to an aunt that they’ve found something, and the fact that she tells this to the authorities brings them under suspicion while they deny the truth. They find it hard to keep the secret (or continue the lie), which leads to potentially severe consequences for them and their friends and family. Much of the book is spent with the boys avoiding the bad guys while trying to keep possession of the item secret and trying to solve the mystery behind the item they found. Trash is an entertaining but pretty basic story about poverty and perseverance. Better: Holes by Louis Sachar, Hoot by Carl Hiaasen and Maximum Ride by James Patterson.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up this novel because I was looking for something new and fresh to add to my classroom reading list; I thought it might be a high interest story for my students (7th grade), something to keep them from getting squirmy in their seats when they hear the words, "And the next novel we will read is..."

Simply put, this book is breath-taking. From the descriptions of the dumps to the charisma of its protagonists, this book is a page-turner. Mulligan sets his novel in a fictional third world country, although there are elements that suggested to me the setting could be our very own United States (i.e. - a train station called "Central," possibly alluding to Grand Central). In a clearly dystopian society, there seems to be no middle class--only the wealthy and powerful and the ne'er-do-wells. The poor live in the city dumps where they sift through mountains of garbage on a daily basis looking for food, clothing, and any item of value to sell. It is in one such pile that Raphael, a young boy of about 13, discovers a map, a wallet, and a key--all items of great value, great mystery, and great danger.

When Raphael and his friend Gordo decide to solve the mystery of the wallet's owner, they enlist the help of Rat, an 11 year old with quick hands, quick feet, and a quick mind. Together the three embark on an adventure that could lead them to a life free of poverty and trash...or lead them to death.

Suspenseful, gritty, and honest, "Trash" stays with you long after the last page is read. For anyone with tweens and teens, this book is a must read. It invites conversation about corruption, trust, and, of course, poverty. It's a wake-up call to us all that Behala isn't truly a fictional place, but one that exists even in our own backyards.
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