Review Blog

Aug 02 2011

Trash by Andy Mulligan

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David Fickling Books, 2011. ISBN 978038561902 8
(Ages 12+) Highly recommended. Thriller. When two boys find a wallet with a key, some money and a letter on their morning trawl through the rubbish heap called Behala, they are stunned. Not the usual shuppa, paper filled with shit, or the leavings of the city, the rotting food, rags and paper, but money. They seek out Rat, who they know will be able to hide their find while they work out what to do. They are the lowest of the low, the poorest of people, the ones who reuse rubbish for a living Illiterate, relying on food and a smattering of education from the local Catholic priest, they are emaciated, smelly and fast.
When the police swarm over Behala asking if anyone has found something, they are quiet, it's never a good idea to be mixed up with the authorities. But Gaudo's mother calls out that the boys have found something and almost swallows her words. The boys try to explain that it was nothing, but they become targets, and one is taken by the police and brutally questioned.
The boys begin to realise that they have found something quite significant, and so begin to piece together the information they have about the wallet and its contents. Furtively, using their skills learnt on the streets, they collect what is in the locker belonging to the key they found, from there they seek out the owner of the letter, a man in jail, near death. They find that he was the servant to a wealthy embezzling senator who lost a great deal of money, and the boys work through the clues given to finally unravel the mystery of where the money was hidden.
A fascinating story of the boys using their learnt skills surviving in this the poorest of places, to outwit the authorities and find the hidden money, ensuring their own futures, will have kids eagerly reading to the end. Along the way they will learn of how some other children in the world live, those on the streets in Manila, a stunning contrast to the wealth of that place, and the ease in which we live.
Fran Knight

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