Sunday, October 27, 2013

Trash by Andy Mulligan

"In an unnamed Third World country, in the not-so-distant future, three “dumpsite boys” make a living picking through the mountains of garbage on the outskirts of a large city. 

One unlucky-lucky day, Raphael finds something very special and very mysterious. So mysterious that he decides to keep it, even when the city police offer a handsome reward for its return. That decision brings with it terrifying consequences, and soon the dumpsite boys must use all of their cunning and courage to stay ahead of their pursuers. It’s up to Raphael, Gardo, and Rat—boys who have no education, no parents, no homes, and no money—to solve the mystery and right a terrible wrong."

This was a bit of a deviation from my normal books, but I'm very glad I read it. It was a big "social issues" book, one that made commentary and society and showed the depths to which it can fall or rise to (um, it mostly focused on the "fall" part). It was set, as far as I can figure, somewhere in Latin America (they used pesos and the names were reminiscent of that area). Also, one thing became significantly clearer to me throughout the book: it isn't about the characters. Not at all, really. They live the situation and provide a characterization of the state of the country and its citizens, but they aren't the focus. The focus is the story that's being told, the story of corruption and unfairness and poverty and the few people who have rebelled against it over time in the hopes of making something better. In that respect, the author does a spectacular job--you can't help but picture the state of living and the awful life that too many people consider routine. The ideas and questions that it leaves you with are almost more important than the experience of reading it; you have no choice but to consider the book's message and its very real applications today. I'd give this one a good rating, and recommend it especially to someone interested in these issues. Heck, read it if you're not interested. I think that's partly what it's for, getting people to consider new viewpoints. Go find a copy at Kettleson, SHS, or Mt. Edgecumbe.

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