Title: The Glass Collector
Author: Anna Perera
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Concepts: human resources, social justice, poverty, scarcity
Review: Aaron, a member of Cairo's Zabbaleen community, collects and recycles garbage for a living. He and other members of this minority religious community have collected Cairo's garbage for decades, and their recycling methods have proven more efficient than those of the commercial garbage collectors. However, they live on the edge, literally and figuratively, with lives characterized by extreme poverty and vulnerability to trauma. Aaron's problems are no different and if anything, are compounded by having to live with a cruel stepbrother and stepfather. Will his love of collecting glass and his dreams of finding love be enough to sustain him through the major setbacks he encounters?
This gritty novel does an excellent job in introducing young adult readers to the nearly invisible livelihoods of Cairo's "garbage people" during a period shortly before the Egyptian uprising. What the book may lack in terms of a fast-moving plot it makes up for with vivid descriptions of the sights, smells, and sensations of working with garbage and living in some of the world's poorest slum conditions.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children