Start here listening to this interview on our
"I was a trash boy since I was old enough to move without help and pick things up. ... Let me tell you what we're looking for. Plastic, because plastic can be turned into cash, fast - by the kilo."
The dump workers are also looking for paper if it is white a clean, cardboard, tin cans, glass bottles, clothing and rubber. No one would expect to find eleven hundred pesos in a wallet with a map, ID card, photos and a key. This is an amazing thing to find but it will lead the boys - Raphael, Gardo and Jun Jun (known as Rat) - into places even worse than the dump itself.
A group of five police arrive that night asking if anyone has found a bag.
"I nearly raised my hand. I nearly spoke up then and there."
Raphael does not reveal his find but his auntie says "Raphael found something, sir." The police return and Raphael is arrested and brutally interrogated. This scene is why I would suggest this book is for mature readers only. It is very confronting.
Thank goodness our little group of heroes do survive and right the wrong and even, perhaps, make the world a better place. The final chapters will have you cheering!
A couple of years ago a Grade Six boy asked me to buy Trash for our school library. I imagine he may have seen the movie. I read some reviews and hesitated. This is a book which might better suit a 12+ student but I decided to buy it and see. Sadly I do not think this boy was able to actually read this book although he did borrow it and keep it for several months.
On the other hand I read Trash in one sitting and was absolutely gripped by the story. One of the things that makes this book so compelling is the use of alternating voices. Each of the three boys along with Father Juilliard who runs the Behala Mission school and Olivia, who works there as a volunteer, recount the events over the days after Raphael finds the money.
Here is a written interview with Andy Mulligan. If you are using this book with a class of High School students you could make use of this web page from Andy himself where he visits 80 dumps.
Click each of these review to read more about Trash.
Kirkus "It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller."
Kids Book Review "We clearly see the boys and their world in our mind's eye and not only that - we feel their pain and angst and determination in an almost visual way."
BookZone4Boys "Every now and then a book sneaks up on the unsuspecting public, with very little fanfare, and hits you where it hurts the most - in the heart."
Read in a single Sitting "These issues are explored with beautiful subtlety as the narrative takes a turn that while inevitable, is utterly welcomed by the reader."