Pages

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Review: Trash by Andy Mulligan


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...

Every now and then a book sneaks up on the unsuspecting public, with very little fanfare, and hits you where it hurts the most - in the heart. Trash is one such book. It has its own Facebook page, and yet currently only 82 people 'like' it. I have a feeling this number will grow rapidly once it gets into the hands of children (and adults) following its official release date (which just happens to be today). This book is a mystery story for Young Adults, that is both funny and deeply moving in equal measures.

The story reveolves around the life of Raphael, a fourteen year old who lives on the Behala dumpsite - a mountainous heap of rubbish from the nearby city that has built up over time. Raphael and his friend Gardo (and hundreds of other kids) spend their days 'working', i.e. scrambling over this landscape of trash in search for items that may make them a little cash. And we're not talking items that you or I would consider valuable ir saleable as we sit in our comfy homes, we are talking pieces of plastic ("white plastic is the best"), paper, tin cans, bottles, bits of cloth.... yes, exactly the sort of things we would classify as trash. But to these boys good trash means cash. Of course this also means that half the time they are wading through (and picking up) what they refer to as stuppa, and what we would refer to as (in polite conversation) human muck.

One day Raphael spots a 'special' - a bag of trash from one of the rich areas in the city - and within it a small leather bag containing a wallet (complete with eleven hundred pesos), a map and a mysterious key. Within hours the police are driving through the gates of Behala and it is obvious to the boys what they are after, even going as far as to offer a huge monetary reward for its discovery/return, although Raphael decides to keep his discovery quiet for reasons he himself is not entirely sure of - mistrust? a greater reward in a few days time? Very soon Raphael and Gardo, joined by Jun-Jun (aptly nicknamed Rat) find themselves on an exciting, and very perilous hunt for the truth behind the key they have found and why it is so precious to the police and their superiors.

Trash had me captivated from the very first chapter, but I cannot put my finger on why it appealed to me so much. If I had to liken it to any other book I guess the closest comparison would be the fantastic Holes by Louis Sachar. Like Trash, Holes is humorous and poignant, and also very thought-provoking. And believe me, Trash makes you think a lot - about the day-to-day life these boys lead, the way the police use brutality to get what they want, the luxury that a few wealthy (and corrupt) politicians live in whilst all around them there is poverty, and the way that charity aid from countries such as the UK can so easily be misappropriated by these corrupt individuals.

This story is a great social commentary without ever seeming moralistic, and I think this is aided by the story telling device of multiple narrators that Andy Mulligan uses. For the first few chapters the story is narrated in the first person by Raphael, before shifting over to Gardo, and then flitting between them and a variety of other characters as the plot progresses, including Father Juilliard who runs the Mission School on the Behala dumpsite, and his volunteer assistant, the naive Olivia Weston. I felt that this swapping of the narration between different characters with very different personalities made the story feel even more real for me, almost as if they had been giving informal witness statements. At no point did I find it confusing, although this is helped by each character announcing themselves at the beginning of each of their chapters.

I read this book on a plane as I was flying off to Menorca for a week's holiday and as such had no way of googling place names such as Behala. Having seen documentaries on the TV about such places I then spent the next week assuming that it was a real place, probably in somwhere like Mexico or the Philippines. On my return a quick search showed that in name at least there is no such place as the Behala dumpsite, yet it is similar to many such places in Less Developed Countries. A further search revealed that Andy Mulligan has travelled a lot in the Phillippines and the vividness of his descriptions of Behala would suggest that he spent some time visiting one or more of these massive dumpsites. This story is very much about people, and yet at the same time I had a very clear picture of this place in my mind - I 'knew' how it looked, smelt and, rather disgustingly, felt -  and Mr Mulligan managed this without any lengthy passages that detracted from the plot. 

Holes has been a popular class reader in schools across the country over recent years, and I would not be surprised if Trash is in a similar position in a couple of years time. There is so much about the various characters and the society in which they live that can be gleaned from this story, and it is sure to provoke many a lively discussion in classrooms; it is certainly suitable for the 11+ age range. My thanks go to the generous people at David Fickling Books for sending me a copy to read and review. 

45 comments:

  1. Thank you very much for the wonderful book review.
    I had also read Trash last month and I was totally captivated by it.
    --Greetings from the Philippines <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. this is a fantastic book & it is sad how they live.this comment was all the way from New Zealand!choice cuzz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks bro :)
      helped alot for my english :)
      sweet as bro ...
      from round the world cuz :)

      Delete
  3. nice book i love this book and interview i read this for my English class and it was good and sad

    ReplyDelete
  4. the book is ok

    ReplyDelete
  5. absoulute shit

    ReplyDelete
  6. can you write what happens in each chapter please, i need to create a storyboard and cant remember what happens in each one, thanks that would be a lot of help
    :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. this is a very good book its just the type that will want you to read it agian it has some action,adveture i would tell everyone to read this book

    ReplyDelete
  8. the person how wrote it should right a second

    ReplyDelete
  9. good for schools

    ReplyDelete
  10. one of the worst books ive read

    ReplyDelete
  11. I disliked this book. BOOOORINGGGG

    ReplyDelete
  12. I cant get into this book. Its a little boring for a 13 year old girl. I have to read it in English. If I cant get into a book then I cant read it. I need to do a speech on it :( Any body know any good sites that have good summery's on it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the andy mulligan wordpress website has a little summary on ch 1-6. all i can find at this point

      Delete
  13. Um there is a place in the world called Behala..... In Koltata, India. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behala

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great book, I read the whole story and was reaaly stunned by how much it toke me into a complete different world.

    ReplyDelete
  15. can you please list the similarities and differences between Raphael and Gardo

    ReplyDelete
  16. the book is trash if u read this go die in a hole

    ReplyDelete
  17. Download and install and office setup from office.com/setup . log in and enter office 25 digit product key to activate your office product. if you are new user then you need to create a office account to get more benefits of office.com/setup subscription. Ms office is a new sensatin office.com/setup in the market that left every body awestruck with its best products.
    office.com/setup
    office.com/setup
    office.com/setup

    ReplyDelete
  18. Kaspersky Anti-Virus features include real-time protection, detection and removal of viruses, trojans, worms, spyware, adware, keyloggers, Kaspersky.com/activationmalicious tools and auto-dialers,Kaspersky.com/activation as well as detection and removal of rootkits.
    Kaspersky.com/activation
    Kaspersky.com/activation
    Kaspersky.com/activation
    Kaspersky.com/activation

    ReplyDelete
  19. Norton Antivirus provides protection from viruses, malware, online threats without harming device performance. It also blocks harmful websites. You can get Norton.com/setup product from retail store and also download and install Norton Antivirus with product key from Norton.com/setup. And to do this, you can visit the website given by us at Norton.com/setup or link. Our entire team is available to help you.
    Norton.com/setup
    Norton.com/setup
    Norton.com/setup
    Norton.com/setup
    Norton.com/setup

    ReplyDelete
  20. Disney+ Hotstar is currently the most popular OTT service in India.Disney+ is a subscription-based streaming video service owned by Disney that’s similar to Netflix, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime Video.
    disneyplus.com/begin
    disneyplus.com/begin

    ReplyDelete
  21. Roku Streaming players are an increasingly advantageous roku.com/link and financially savvy approach to sit in front of the TV. Simply plug it into your TV, associate with the web, set up a Roku record, and start spilling your top choices.Roku gadgets are easy to set-up and simple to-utilize. roku/link They accompany a straightforward remote, and incredible highlights like Roku Search which makes it easy to discover what you need to watch.
    roku.com/link
    roku.com/link
    roku.com/link

    ReplyDelete
  22. Amazon Prime TV, and MyTV code. To register your device on the Amazon website you go to our website and enter the given code. The program requires the customer to have an Amazon account and a streaming device or TV. Amazon Prime Video is available on almost all streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast. For this, you just have to go to Amazon amazon.com/mytv with the help of the amazon activation code. You can visit our website for details of the entire process. You can do this by installing the Amazon.com/mytv Video application on your smart TV, or the digital media player or video game console connected to your TV by visiting the link provided by us in the de cription.or more information, you can contact our team at amazon.com/mytv and get more and more information.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hulu is one amongst the foremost common streaming services, holding you watch movies, shows, live matches, and on-demand tv. the appliance provides additional importance to originals and new TV shows than to documentaries and flicks.
    hulu.com/activate

    ReplyDelete
  24. You can download and install norton setup from Norton.com/setup. Norton may receive annual renewal billing, cancellations, refunds, subscriptions, credit card updates, purchases by Norton membership. Visit Norton.com/setup to activate or renew your Norton membership. And a valid Norton membership ensures that your security is always updated. You should activate or renew your subscription before the trial or membership period ends so that all Norton features can continue to be used and your computer is protected. For more information, you can contact our team at Norton.com/setupand get more and more information.

    Norton.com/setup
    Norton.com/setup
    Norton.com/setup
    Norton.com/setup
    Norton.com/setup
    Norton.com/setup

    ReplyDelete
  25. Roku empowers you to watch free and roku.com/link
    paid video content on your TV by methods for the Internet. For Activating Roku, go to www.roku.com/associate record enter Roku com association code appeared on Roku TV. Initiate Roku tv, go to rokucom link roku.com/link
    record enter Roku com connection code showed on Roku TV.

    roku.com/link
    roku.com/link
    roku.com/link

    ReplyDelete
  26. Disney+ Hotstar is currently the most popular OTT service in India. Disney+ is a subscription-based streaming video service owned by Disney that’s similar to Netflix, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime Video.

    disneyplus.com/begin
    disneyplus.com/begin

    ReplyDelete
  27. Dynamisers Solutions, a modern innovation firm established in 2014, is young, but cool nerds focused on catalyzing your business success.
    Our main focus lies in offering Web Services, Design and Development, Mobile App Development,
    E-Commerce Web Development Services, Full-Stack Web Development Services, and many more Solutions to a wide assortment of business verticals.
    Mobile App Development Company In Delhi

    ReplyDelete
  28. go to the website replica gucci handbags take a look at the site here Go Here find out Balenciaga Dolabuy

    ReplyDelete