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“Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.”
Summary: Like the members of his community, Aaron is a trash collector. He is a Zabbaleen, the trash collectos of Egypt. They are applauded for their abilities, but neither paid well nor accepted. They live in poverty, among the trash they collect and recycle. Aaron dreams of bigger things, but in the meantime he collects glass and sells it. He sees its beauty - to the point of stealing. After he is caught, Aaron's family kicks him out and he is ostracized by his community. Alone in a life all too familiar, Aaron learns that in fact, he may not be alone. Readers learn about life for the Zabbaleen through Aaron's eyes in this young adult novel.
Type of Reading: independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 12 to 16; read yourself: 11 and Up
Interest Level: 13 and Up
Reading Level: 6.1
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: The writing is amazing. The author creates such vivid imagery that awakens all of your senses. Even though this is Aaron's voice, it is uneven to the point of being unrelated stories. I found it hard to follow and only kept reading because I loved the writing. The ending is thought provoking.
Pros: Exceptional, sensory writing will draw you into an unknown but very real world. The journey is jaw-dropping and will give you a lot to think about.
Cons: If you are looking for a story that moves along with a single plot or a few characters, this book will frustrate you.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. Plan to push yourself through the first third of the book as the author tries to lay out the scene, introduce characters and give you your bearings. Trust that your questions about Aaron will be answered later.
Educational Themes: The story will pique readers' interest in Egypt, Coptic Christians and the Zabbaleen people. Build on that to expand their sense of the world. There is also a lot to explore among the characters themselves both internally (their moral compass) and externally (relationships within their community and family, as well as society as a whole).
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.