My first experience with Trash was hundreds of printed copies of chapter one showing up in my library unsolicited as a promotional. I wondered if there was some unintentional irony with a book set in a giant landfill being advertised by creating another landfill. Was I supposed to give all 1300+ students a copy? Publishers and marketing experts, I don’t recommend that strategy.
Moving past that, Trash is a socially-conscientious book about a fictional Third World country and an extremely impoverished group of kids. The kids find a wallet in a section of the trash heap one day and through some investigation find that there may be a big conspiracy that they’ve uncovered.
Where Trash succeeds is in its grit. I truly believed in this poor country and the corrupt politicians serving themselves instead of the people. The description of life in a landfill is very gripping, which makes sense because Mulligan spent some time in the Philippines and visited a real-life group of trashpile kids.
Where Trash struggles is in the constantly switching POV. By jumping voices so many times, even though the voices sound real, it’s tough to keep track of characters and, more importantly, connect with them. Some narrators pop in for a few pages and then are gone for the rest of the book. I didn’t know who was worth investing in. If students can get past that, I think fans of realistic fiction with elements of a mystery story will enjoy it.