The Glass Collector is an intriguing story of a Zabbaleen teenaged boy working in the streets of Cairo. This book paints a vivid picture of the Zabbaleen culture and a people whose livelihood depends on the collection of trash on the streets of the Egyptian metropolis. Aaron is a good kid stuck in a bad situation. He is persecuted in general as a member of a lower class, and individually as an outsider with his step-family; yet he is able to see beauty in the pieces of glass he finds in the alleys and backstreets of Cairo. Perera does a good job of introducing a people and culture that is largely unknown without bogging the story down in too much background. She writes a tale that can stand on its own, yet she leaves the “what” and “why” of the Zabbaleen culture to the reader to further discover on their own. That said, perhaps a little more detail would not be unwarranted. Perera seems a little hesitant to get into much grit, and Aaron’s story seems to resolve a bit too handily to seem completely real. Certain events and details leave the reader confused as to their relevance, and others leave the reader wanting further development and purpose. However, Perera’s goal seems to be to enlighten and intrigue the reader about the Zabbaleen people, and in this she succeeds: an enjoyable and educational read.
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Albert Whitman & Co.
Violence/Gore: A character is physically abused by his stepbrother frequently, yet there is only one instance described in any detail.
Sex/Nudity: There is a vague reference to consummating a marriage via graffiti; two instances of the stepbrother handling a woman roughly, though nothing further than kissing happens; an instance of kissing.
Mature Subject Matter:
Persecution, adversity, economic and financial hardship, hunger, scavenging, stealing, disease and death.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
There is one ongoing instance of drug use by a secondary character. It is portrayed as unsavory and is resolved at the end, warranting mention but not too much concern.