Trash by Andy Mulligan
I can’t believe that I haven’t written this review. The book was read months ago and it was packed away with those heading for a new home when I thought, I’ll just double check this review. And guess what, it wasn’t there. Very unusual for one of the best books that I have read this year.
Set in an unknown city in an unknown land, this story is about 3 children surviving in poverty. They make their income by picking through the tip looking for anything that might be resold or recycled. They can’t afford to go to school because to do would take away their time for scavenging. Then one day they find a bag, and what is inside could mean their death, or their brighter future. What do they do? Find the original owner, return the valuables, hand it into the police, or keep everything for themselves. Very quickly they realise that they can’t trust the police. So they investigate where the bag came from and then decide what to do.
This is an exceptional snapshot of life in another place. The news and other media tell us about children who live in poverty, but this book makes you live with them. You cry at their pain, and keep turning the pages as they get into, and out of, trouble. Right from the opening pages where the reader is told about the most common parcels to be found everywhere. Disgusting? Definitely. Enlightening? Well, kind of. Important to understand? Absolutely.
I have seen a few reviews that question the ending. Personally, I don’t think the kids had another choice.