Trash – Andy Mulligan

“My name is Raphael Fernảndez and I am a dumpsite boy.”

Raphael is a Dumpsite boy, living and working amongst the rubbish of Behala. He is happy with life and doesn’t wish to live elsewhere. Then one day he and his friend Gardo find a bag in the new trash, in the bag there is a kay, a wallter, a map and 1100 pesos. Splitting the money between them they decide to keep everything to themselves… forget about the bag and just use the money to help their families. Then the police turn up and somehow know Raphael is up to something. When the police offer a thousand pesos to every family in the dumpsite and ten thousand to the family of the person who hands the bag in Raphael and Gardo know theres more to the bag than they thought.
Enlisting the help of another boy from the site, Rat, they start the investigation into what this bag means to the police, getting battered and bruised along the way, nothing is going to stop these boys from getting the answers they want
***

Trash wasn’t what I expected it to be at all, though to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. I think the target audience is a lot younger than I thought it would be but at the same time the content wasn’t aimed at a very young audience at all. Saying that, I still enjoyed the book a lot.
I couldn’t help but feel quite detached from the story as I have never seen places such as were described in this book, but at the same time it made me want to, it made me want to go to places like this and help the people who live in them and hate the people like the senator, who make these people life in these places. I believe it was based on a city in the Philippines, (I kept thinking of Mexico as I was reading the book but I’m not entirely sure why…) and I can’t imagine what it would be like living in the conditions that these boys do.
I was reading through the book and just hoping that the boys would get out of the filth and squalor that they lived in but at the same time I couldn’t believe that other people were in worse situations than these boys. There are parts of the book where it is clear that the boys actually enjoy living there and I liked that they showed the strength and maturity to understand that although it’s not the best life, they could still be worse off.
There is a lot of violence from higher authorities towards the lower classes and in some places this book made me feel sick. They lived in such a corrupt place that the police can kill a man in a police cell room and nothing is really done about it. Also a senator can pilfer millions of dollars from the city and no-one bats an eyelid… It’s awful
Despite not really engaging with the boys and their surroundings I still loved the story, I really got into it, but objectively, at a distance, and I really hoped that it was going in the direction I wanted. Instead of getting into the head space of the boys I wanted to help them and treat them like adopted little brothers, which I think is what the author was going for. You feel for the characters and you want to help them even though you know that some of the time, what they are doing is wrong and in a lot of places illegal!
Trash really isn’t one for the faint-hearted. Its full of filth, squalor, violence and corruption but in the heart of all that is a beautiful story about three young boys, two grown men and a little girl who were trying to do the right thing the only way they could. I felt awful for the Father and the Sister from the Mission School at the dumpsite as they were the ones most affected in a bad way by the boys behaviour… especially Olivia, she was really taken in by the boys!
I would really recommend this read to everyone. It’s not easy and I’m finding the review for it really difficult because the situations in the book are awful and I can’t really say much without giving the story away (and I don’t want to spoil it for you!). I want people to read this one just so it opens their eyes about the terrible things that happen in the world, it’d be so educational for a young teen to read this and I think that is what is needed; shocking stories to open people’s minds because there is too much naivety in the world. I was always brought up to see the suffering in the world and take note of it, be grateful for the things I have and try to help others that don’t have anything, so the way it opened my eyes really says something about this book!
Trash was published by David Fickling Books in March 2010. It is the third book from Andy Mulligan, previous books were two in the Ribblestrop series. A huge thank you goes to Mostly Reading YA for hosting the giveaway in which I won my copy.
  • Wow – what a powerful reminder about poverty and inequity. Heartbreaking to think of children living this way- sounds like a very moving read.

  • Sounds interesting and heartbreaking, not sure I could read it but thanks for the great review. x

  • This sounds like a really difficult but powerful book. What age is it aimed for? Middle school? Do you think kids would have a hard time handling it? Then again, I read tons of Holocaust books at that age and handled it just fine.

  • I tried reading this one but I couldn’t get past my feelings of detachment despite all of the lovely things I heard about this book!

  • wow ~ what a well written and compelling review. i am planning on reading this one ~ i lilke that it is not what you expected. hopefully i will get more attached to the characters than you did though 🙂