Rummanah Aasi
  Sometimes we need a reality check. We need to be put out of our comfort zone to re-evaluate what are the big issues that we really need to concerns ourselves with and which are extremely petty. Trash is one of those books that remind us that there are places and people that are in far worse conditions than us.

Description (from Goodreads): Fourteen-year-olds Raphael and Gardo team up with a younger boy, Rat, to figure out the mysteries surrounding a bag Raphael finds during their daily life of sorting through trash in a third-world country's dump.

Review: The closest thing that I can compare Trash to is a very, very PG rated Slumdog Millionaire sans romance story. Both stories touch upon extreme poverty along with an engaging mystery at its core. Unfortunately, Trash felt lacking in many ways and instead of being pulled into the story, I became annoyed and could really care less of what happened.
The story was told from the point of view of three boys (along with occasional commentary from other secondary characters) who live and work in trash, namely the city landfill site. They make their living from wading through the rubbish thrown out by the people in the city they live in. The setting of the book is clearly a third world country and after reading the author note, he does mentioned that it is loosely based on the Philippines. Though I found the poverty and the political corruption to be alarming in Trash, I though these themes were repetitive and after a while I felt like it hit me with a sledgehammer. Even characters and their actions are limited and defined by the squalor and the helplessness. As a result, they were flat and unmemorable. It also irked me that characters from the first world were depicted as saviors, most concerned about education, and obliged to help change the world, giving us the impression that those living in the dumps are pleased with their present state.
 The main crux of the story is a mystery based around a bag which is presumably filled with lots of cash, found by the boys one day. The mystery is a plot devise designed to talk about moral questions about poverty, police and statement corruption and the ever growing divide between the world's most rich and the world's most poor. Normally, with engaging characters the plot would be fine. The pacing was okay and the outcome a tad too predicable. 
 Trash is an okay book but it's definitely not a book that I would immediately tell others to read about. The plot nor the characters blew me away. Had it not been on the Caudill reading list for this year, I would not have read it. 

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: Some language and disturbing scenes. Recommended for strong Grade 5 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, Boys without Names by Kashmira Seth or for adult reads try: Q & A by Vikas Swarup., and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
4 Responses
  1. I read Trash last year and liked it, but didn't love it. I did like that it touches on issues and a country that aren't usually found in YA Lit

  2. Makes you wonder why it's on the Caudill list doesn't it? I can't believe you finished it. Flat characters kill a story for me. But as always you gave a very fair and honest review.


  3. Jenny Says:

    Hmmmm. I'm thinking this is not a book I need to rush out and buy Rummanah! It's always disappointing to come across a book that you just can't muster up any real reaction to at all - I would rather all-out hate the things that happen in a story rather than feel indifferent toward them. Lovely review though:)

  4. Interesting that you compare it to Slumdog. I can see how that would be too much without romance there. Definitely a sledgehammer.

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