Raphael is a dumpsite boy. He spends his days wading through mountains of steaming trash, sifting it, sorting it, breathing it, sleeping next to it. Then one unlucky-lucky day, Raphael’s world turns upside down. A small leather bag falls into his hands. It’s a bag of clues. It’s a bag of hope. It’s a bag that will change everything. Soon Raphael and his friends Gardo and Rat are running for their lives. Wanted by the police, it takes all their quick-thinking, fast-talking to stay ahead. As the net tightens, they uncover a dead man’s mission to put right a terrible wrong. It’s three street-boys against the world…
I loved this book. It is one of the best young adult books I have read in years and would recommend it to students in Years 7 to 10 in particular, but it is a captivating and charming story that anyone would enjoy.
Trash seems to be set in the Philippines (although this is never stated) and begins on a huge mountain of rubbish. People live in and around this garbage eking out an existence for themselves and their families. They dig through the rubbish to find anything that they can eat, use or sell. When fourteen year old Raphael finds a key in the refuse it sets him and his friends on a life changing adventure.
One interesting aspect of the novel is the use of multiple narrators. The boys’ story is told in the past tense by several characters and the reader pieces the story together to get the whole picture. I really liked the use of multiple perspectives as it added suspense and you certainly wanted to read on to see what would happen next.
I thought of the film Slumdog Millionaire as I read Trash. The main characters are complete underdogs and the huge divisions between the rich and the very poor are conveyed clearly to the reader. The poverty, the corruption, the cruelty of the boys’ world comes across vividly in a very real and disturbing way.
Trash is available from all good booksellers and I urge you to read it.