TRASH is a verse novel that continues telling the story Boy and Sissy Lexie, first introduced in Sharon Darrow’s novel THE PAINTERS OF LEXIEVILLE. It’s certainly not necessary to have read that first book (I haven’t), though--but I’m planning on it now that I’ve read this one. The best part of this book, I think, is the characters, and I’d love to read more about them.
Sure, the story is interesting, too: Boy and Sissy are teenagers now. They’ve been shipped around to various foster homes in a way that makes them feel like trash, especially since their mother discarded them like it. Now they’re living with the town trash collectors, a placement that seems especially fit using that comparison. It’ll never be home.
Boy says that home is where their big sister Raynell is, and Sissy thinks it’s the truth. So what do they do? They run away and go to find her. They think she’s in Little Rock, but it turns out that she moved to St. Louis and their foster parents didn’t deliver the message. They don’t know how to find her, so they start saving their money, and when they have enough, they go to St. Louis and search her out.
In St. Louis, they have a family with Raynell, her husband, Jobe, and their baby, Kylie. They also have new friends: Dolores and Tyrone. The four of them run around the city at night, climbing, jumping, and painting. They take new names with which to sign their graffiti: Boy and Sissy, who have always wanted real names, are now Atenz and Skye.
And then something unthinkable happens. Something terrible: Boy doesn’t look where he’s jumping, and in that split second of not looking, things change forever. Sissy’s life will never, ever be the same.
Both the story and characters in TRASH are interesting. My issue with this book is the form it takes. I do enjoy verse novels quite often, but they have to be done in a particular way to really be able to take the name verse novel. They have to flow and tell the story as well as a good novel does. I’m not sure that TRASH does this; the poetry is a little too artsy and doesn’t flow as smoothly as it should. The style of poetry doesn’t make for a novel so much as some random poems scribbled on sheets of notebook paper. Perhaps this is just personal preference, but I think Sharon Darrow could have told the story better if she’d written it as regular novel, the way the rest of her stories are told. Still, though, TRASH is worth reading.