I really, really love Andy Mulligan’s super-sharp, twisting heist story set in an unnamed impoverished country very much identifiable (from the names used) as The Philippines.
Corrupt politicians, seriously evil gangsters and three kids who find a bag of money on the vast dumpsite where they live (yes, live). Remade with a Brazilian setting by Stephen Daldry, the film was certified 15 (for violence) but is well worth seeing with teens. The book is suitable for upper MG (10+) through to YA.
The author worked as a teacher in the Philippines but didn’t want to identify the country by name in the book as he explains on his website:
“I was anxious that the book was never seen as an attack on one country. Corruption and child-exploitation are vile facts of life that exist (or have existed) in every country in the world. I did not want to localize the book when its issues are international.”
To the author’s credit he turns these tragic facts into a gripping adventure where we root for Raphael, who finds the money, and his friends Gardo and Rat all the way.