Sunday, January 20, 2013

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Doomed to a life of crushing poverty, the "Trash" children climb through mountains of garbage in a city dump. Members of a lowly underclass, they scrounge through sickening waste as their friends, relatives and neighbours live in shacks that are scattered among the discarded refuse. Resigned to a miserable existence, the scavengers are convinced that they will never find anything important.

But when 14-year-old Raphael Fernandez makes a remarkable discovery, he unleashes a series of events that forever changes the lives of him and his two friends, Gardo and Rat. From the lowest caste in society, this heartbreaking trio embark on an adventure that will reveal political corruption at the highest level, and reveal to them heroic men who are trying to improve their country.

I discovered this book by chance while at the library. It was displayed in a prominent location near the entrance and on a whim I took it. I am very glad that I did. This teenage novel describes the tragic reality of countless thousands (or it is millions?) of people around the world who are so poor that they have to scrounge their lives lives through trash dumps. While revealing this injustice, however, the novel also provides a first-rate mystery tale that is very well written. It is therefore not a surprise that there are plans to turn this book into a movie.

English writer Andy Mulligan worked as a theatre director for many years before teaching English and drama in Britain, India, Brazil and the Philippines. His idea of writing a novel about a shanty town in the middle of a garbage dump was based on experiences he had in the Philippines. This experience has produced a very realistic portrayal of poverty, while his impressive storytelling skills make this book a page turner. A wonderful novel that contains tears, smiles and adventure, but most important hope.

4 out of 5 stars