Trash by Andy Mulligan: Book Review

Title: Trash
Author: Andy Mulligan
Publication Details: October 2010 by David Fickling Books
Copy: Hardbound [bought]

In an unnamed Third World ccountry, in the not-so-distant future, three "dumpsite boys" make a living picking through mountains of garbage on the outskirts of a large city.

One unlucky-lucky day, Raphael finds something very special and very mysterious. So mysterious that he decides to keep it, even when the city police offer a handsome reward for its return. That decision brings with it terrifying consequences, and soon the dumpsite boys must use all of their cunning and courage to stay ahead of their pursuers. It's up to Raphael, Gardo and Rat- boys who have no education, no parents, no homes and no money- to solve the mystery and right a terrible wrong.

It was an adventure with the three dumpsite boys. When Smoky Mountain was mentioned (in reality, spelled as Smokey Mountain), I knew that the setting was in the Philippines. There were other familiar landmarks like the Green Hills, McKinley Hill, the Ermita Police Station and even the cemetery (though the name was different). It, thus, made my reading easier since I was able to picture it clearly.

It's amazing how Raphael, Gardo and Rat were able to solve the mystery behind the Jose Angelico's case. Despite the lack of education, they were actually smart figuring out the pieces and staying ahead of the police. Young but matured. Small but brave. Andy Mulligan, the author, portrayed how the dumpsite kids, and even the street kids, manage their every day lives. People think they're stupid and only after the money, but they're more than that.

I don't know if it's intentional or not, but the book pretty much gave a glimpse of how corrupt officials operate, how large their network is, and how greedy they can get. Of course, it also tackled poverty here in the Philippines. I've never been in a dumpsite before but I see them on TV and newspapers. I encounter street kids almost everyday. And it is impossible to not feel for them.

Mission schools, volunteers, and non-government organizations are also everywhere in the country. Sad to say, but sometimes, they are our only hope. So I applaud Father Julliard and Sister Olivia in the book, and the many Father Julliards and Sister Olivias all over the Philippines.

The Philippines is a beautiful country. It has amazing places, very rich culture, and smart, talented Filipinos. But it also has this side, where people are living in poverty, crying for justice, screaming for equality. Trash will give you a glimpse of this side. Not only will it bring you an adventure but it will also open your eyes to the harsh reality our country is experiencing.