One man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Corny, but not this time. Three boys growing up in a developing nation pick through the garbage dump all day in search of items to recycle, items for their families, items that will support their survival. Most days, they hope to find something – food, recyclables, etc. – that will simply enable them to make it to the next day. Trash picking, for them, is about survival. When Raphael, one of the boys, comes across an unopened bag containing a leather case with pictures,a key, a man’s identification, and more money than they know what do with, he shows Gardo, his trash-picking comrade, and they both decide to act as if nothing has occurred. They’ve come across something big, and they don’t want others to know about it.
That night, the authorities show up in their village asking if anyone has come across the case while picking through the trash. At that moment, Raphael and Gardo know what they’ve found is much bigger than what was contained within the case. Raphael and Gardo tap Rat, their friend, for help as they attempt to figure out what it all means. In doing so, they place their lives, and the lives of others, in jeopardy. Their discovery has landed them in the middle of an internationally-sensitive political scheme.
I loved Trash! Mulligan has composed a tightly-wrapped plot with dynamic, sympathetic characters who want to take home (and probably bathe). Raphale, Gardo, and Rat symbolize the goodness that is most always held down in developing countries where corrupt politicians think of themselves before their constituents.