What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book is about three boys living in a trash dump -- and they are pretty frank about the often disturbing details of their impoverished lives. One is beaten by police and suffers nightmares afterward, while another lives in a rat-infested hole in the ground; all three face unsanitary, inhumane conditions as they work in trying to find anything of value in their trash dump city. In one scene, a protagonist cuts a would-be captor in the face with his hook, then flees during gunshots. A police interrogation and another description of a warehouse-like prison with endless cells and inmates will haunt readers.
What's the story?
Set in the near future, this book follows three boys from a trash dump city who come together when one of them discovers a mysterious wallet. Clues lead them into a huge conspiracy involving a corrupt official at the near top of their government. But the police are already after them: Will they get caught before they can find the stolen money, rumored to be a whopping six million dollars? And what will they do with the money if they find it?
Is it any good?
Told through multiple narrators, each with a unique voice, this story will grip teens: Readers will find themselves racing through the adventure with the three boys as they try to sort through opaque clues (and even break a difficult code) before they are caught by the corrupt police. At the same time, they will be swept up in the details of their trash city, known as Behala, where trash "mountains go right from the docks to the marshes" and the boys support themselves and their families by "picking through the stuff this city throws away." Indeed, details about their lives in this futuristic, Third-World city -- and the atrocities experienced by the poor and others, including an elderly justice fighter -- may stick with readers longer than the actual adventure story at its heart.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about books set in the future. Even books that are set in the near future, like this one, often feature dark elements, like corrupt police and governments, and more disparity between rich and poor. Why do you think that is? Do books like this one do anything to prevent these ideas from becoming reality?
Why do you think the author decided to keep the exact year and location a mystery? It seems that the story is set not too far from now -- and that it is set somewhere in the Third World. Does it bother you to not know exactly when or where the story is taking place?