14-year old Raphael and Gardo are “dumpsite boys,” literally digging through what is buried in their Third World city dump every day, looking for anything that could be turned into a profit. Usually these are just things that could be sold for recycling. One day, Raphael’s digging unearths an expected treasure—a wallet, money, a map, and a key. When the police arrive, asking questions about an important bag that was mistakenly discarded, the boys know that there’s a great deal more to the story. Murder, a missing $6 million, corruption, treasure hunting, and adventure that takes them all over the city and beyond keep this story moving. Raphael, Gardo, and their friend Rat take turns telling the story, with cameos from adults who help them along the way.Trash is a compelling read, with excitement and situations similar to the movie Slumdog Millionaire (2008), but appropriate for students. 232 pages.

Recommended by: Jen Turney, High School Librarian


Set in the future a few years from now, two dumpsite boys find a treasure in the mountains of garbage they sift through on a daily basis. Raphael and and Gardo live in severe poverty, part of the dump itself. They rarely have enough to eat, they live in large families with four or five children to a bed, they go to school only once in a while, and disease and sickness surround them. The government is corrupt and the police are brutal and on the take.

When what seems like the entire police force shows up at the dump, Raphael knows he did the right thing by hiding his treasure. They offer a huge reward, and he realizes that there is more to what he found than just a note, a key, a map, and some money. The two boys seek out Rat, another dumpsite boy who lives under a pile deep in the garbage, and he helps them with the mystery.

The boys realize that the man whose wallet they found is dead--no doubt murdered by the police. Why do the police want his wallet so badly? Who was this man? It is said he stole millions of dollars from the Senator. Is that why the police will stop at nothing to find out who found the wallet? What does the key open? What about the cryptic letter and mysterious map?

Raphael is taken in, questioned, beaten, and finally released when the police can't "break" him. Three uneducated boys will take on the entire corrupt system. They enlist the help of a British social worker and the priest who runs their school. Gardo visits a prisoner who tells them about a secret Bible code. The boys--remember uneducated boys---break the code and prove that determination and hard work rewards.

The fast-paced plot is told in chapters by each boy, the social worker, the priest, and a gravestone maker. This thrilling page turner will likely dominate the box office.

Recommended grade 7-up. No sex, some violence, police brutality, murder.

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Pamela Thompson, MLIS

Library Media Specialist, Texas, USA

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