Sunday, July 3, 2011

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Raphael is an orphaned teen who lives at Behala dumpsite and scavenges trash for a living. He knew immediately that uncovering a leather bag containing a wallet, a map and key was important, but Raphael couldn't dream of the ramifications this find would have on his life. These objects lead to criminal corruption at the highest levels of his country's government, something that those in power will do anything - including murder - to hide.

Raphael and his friends, Gardo and Rat, find themselves solving a high-stakes mystery that involves millions of embezzled foreign aid dollars and a political official. Every move that takes them closer to the answers also brings them into greater danger.

The story is set in an unnamed country, possibly the Philippines, but it could be any country with a huge gulf between the masses of poor and the ultra-rich few. It is told through multiple viewpoints, including the three boys, Father Julliard (head of the Pascal Aguila Mission School, which is made of donated metal shipping containers), Olivia Weston (a British 22-year-old volunteer at the school), Grace (a maid in a senator's mansion), plus some newspaper extracts.

Olivia writes, "I learned perhaps more than any university could teach me." She learns that money is more important than values and virtues. "Money [...] is dripping all the time, like precious water. Some drink deep; others thirst. Without money, you shrivel and die. The absence of money is drought in which nothing can grow."

The dumpsite boys and their strong moral code may prove Olivia wrong. This thrilling and uplifting adventure will appeal to readers from Grade 6 all the way up to adults.

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