The Glass Collector: 05/04/12
The Glass Collector by Anna Perera follows Aaron, a Zabbaleen (Coptic Christian) teen. The Zabbaleens are the garbage collectors of Egypt. They collect it in horse drawn carriages and recycle it and feed the food scraps to their live stock (pigs).
The book opens with Aaron believing he sees the Virgin Mary in in the glass of one of the tourist hotels. That strong opening with a hint of magical realism set up expectations for the direction this novel was going to take. But after that initial sighting, the book settles into a far more mundane routine of collecting garbage, talking about family (the good and bad of it) and thinking about girls.
Aaron begins to steel perfume instead of collecting the empty bottles. Of course his thievery (while completely understandable given his situation) has consequences.
While the descriptions working with garbage and living in extreme poverty are well done, the tone of the book remains flat. There's no ebb and flow to the emotional impact. Aaron does his thing but he never truly comes alive.
Read via NetGalley
Comment #1: Saturday, May 05, 2012 at 10:46:02
Great review-it was really interesting learning about Aaron's life and I am thrilled that there is a contemporary YA set in Egypt but it was so flat, just like you said. I kept wondering when something would happen!
Comment #2: Saturday, May 05, 2012 at 20:13:04
Thank you. I feel exactly the same way. It was great to have contemporary YA fiction set in Egypt but the execution of the story just didn't quite work.