In an unnamed Third World city, Rat, Raphael, and Gardo live with thousands of other kids like them in a garbage dump, where they dig through the detritus looking for anything that could be profitable. When an important person loses something valuable in the refuse, the three boys embark on an engrossing, sobering mystery characterized by stealing, lying, and police brutality as well as generosity, trust, and ingenuity. Multiple characters describe the adventure, and although the switch between narrators may initially seem disorienting (a priest, housemother, and tombstone maker also provide their integral perspectives), the story flows more smoothly as it progresses, bolstered by the young characters’ well-articulated, authentic thoughts, feelings, and voices. Throughout, the boys’ significant sense of devotion and morality leads them from lives of desperation to miraculous possibilities. The culminating scenes contribute important elements of Day of the Dead celebrations and Robin Hood themes, further increasing the novel’s usefulness for discussion and study.

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