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The Garbage King

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,097 ratings  ·  114 reviews
A gritty, deeply moving story that shows how the human spirit can triumph in the harshest of worlds.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Pan MacMillan (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,097 ratings  ·  114 reviews

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Polly Todd
Nov 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I can't say that I was inspired by the cover or the blurb of this book. As I settled down to read, I was anticipating a tone of worthy exploration into poverty in the developing world. By the time I got to the end of the first chapter I was well and truely hooked!
Yes, the story does expose some of the issues of child poverty. Yes, it is set in Ethiopia. Yes, the contrast between the lives of rich and poor are contrasted starkly throughout. However - this book is a real gem in the way that it fli
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-and-youth, 2015
This book didn't wow me but it was still an interesting story about street "urchins" in Ethiopia. Good for grades 5+ but with a warning about references to prostitution, alcohol use, huffing of gasoline, and some swearing.
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this is the first ever book that i have read. I read this book with i was 11 or 12 years old. This book got me into reading and ive been ever since. This book will always have a special place in my heart.
Sarah Saleh
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A really great book that connects you with the main character really well!
Mary Ann
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is quite an insight into the haves and have nots! Hopefully our children will never face the tragedy of surviving on the streets as the main characters of this story did!
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Eluisa F
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Eluisa by: DCLibrarian
This is a really good book that gives an insight into street kids, slavery and struggles at school. I really recommend this book to anyone who has spare time on their hands.
Sep 19, 2017 added it
Shelves: read-just-right
This was a very good, emotional book. It made me more aware of what was going on in different parts of the world, especially where poverty is there.
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Garbage King, is the perfect title, i love the title. And I enjoyed this book! If you like realistic street life, tough children with personality, then you could be utterly charmed by this. I'm a sucker for earnest, hard-earned friendships, its close to home and as I know/knew people in similar situations, so found this sweet and might be biased because of so.

3.8 Stars, but happily 4 on the ratings
Kawiria Creed
Nov 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: summer-2019-tbr
My first DNF in a loonngg time. I just marked it as completed to get it off my timeline. I kept trying to convince myself to get to the end but had too little motivation. Good premise, but I expected something different than what I got. The event in the blurb, the two main characters meeting, doesn't happen until more than halfway through the book. And maybe it was the passive style of writing but nothing felt consequential or gripping.
Iris Fagniez
This book was not really a binge book, however it was so captivating that I ended up reading it in only 2 days. The author was addressing a very serious issue, but was still able to make it sound not too depressing. Overall, I loved this book and will definitely be looking for similar genres in the future.
Awais Cash
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is book is absolutely amazing, it teleports you out this world and into the book, love it, easy read, i definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to acknowledge the struggle of the poor and also this books delivers a good moral of how you should be thankful for the life you have been granted. Overall A Great Book, one of favourite by far.
Ian Boyd
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. The way Elizabeth Laird painted the lives of two Ethiopian boys from different backgrounds and brought them together was so believable, I felt very attached to them. There was also a bit of an 'Outsiders' section with a group of other boys which added a whole other dimension to the story. I am pretty keen to read another one of her books now.
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lisa by: taho
Another "important" book. There seem to be a lot of them these days. I was reading it on the plane.... people may have been wondering about the crazy crying lady... Anyway, this book had me hooked and unwilling to put it down. A real page-turner!
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this in class for an assignment didn't know what to expect because the cover doesn't do much for the book. But I really enjoyed the adventure of being in some else's shoes and not knowing what to expect from their everyday lives. For them each day held something new.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An emotional story - loved it
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It was a touching yet inspiring story! Really enjoyed it...
Larissa Rowan
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
LOVED THIS BOOK! Awesome drawing together of plot line and makes for a quite interesting read.
Lynsey Mccloskey
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read for a book club at school for year 6 students. Going to be a great book for discussin and I really enjoyed it.
Excellent book. My students really enjoyed it.
Sherlyn Tan
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book here used to be my literature book! Recommended for ages 13-14👼
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Percent good 👍 love Elizabeth laird 's books anyway very interesting and well written too!!!!!!!
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A touching tale of two boys and how their shared experience of poverty and friendship can reunite even the most different of worlds.

This novel was an easy read for me. Laird creates two wonderful main characters in Mamo and Dani. Mamo, the poverty stricken young boy, sold into slavery and isolated from the world. And Dani, the wealthy boy who has never known much hardship past the cruel treatment from his father. There were times when Dani irritated me with his selfish ways and self-entitled at
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Why does a child leave a comfortable home and run away? Why are there so few safety valves for children in poverty? These questions are asked often in the media but are not generally answered. The Garbage King will provide you with some insight into the world of young teens struggling to make sense of their world.
This piece of fiction brings together two boys from two totally different social classes in Ethopia, who are searching for a way to survive, alone, on the streets of the capital of this
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful story inspired by actual kids living on the streets in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Worlds of two different boys merge as they work together to survive. Running away, families, finding and using skill-sets, joining family, poverty, and human trafficking are all themes, and although mature are still appropriate for young-ish readers. A page turning and gripping read for any age. I will certainly seek out more books by Laird. Highly recommended.
Emily Foster
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was good and was different to other children’s books Ive read. It follows Mamo and Dani and how, even though they’re from completely different backgrounds, the both end up on the streets and in the same gang. There are some really heartwarming bits in the book and themes of true friendship and family. I did enjoy the book but felt at times some bits weren’t necessary and therefore made the book feel a bit long. I am very glad I have read it.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
1. The Garbage King by Elizabeth Laird is a fiction novel for older boys and girls that conveys the exciting and dramatic story of homeless street children forced to do whatever they have to do in order to stay alive in the streets of an Ethiopian city. The two main characters— Mamo and Dani—come from stable families but are tossed by circumstances beyond their abilities to control and into the dangers and hardships of street life. They find a temporary way to survive when they are taken into a ...more
Esther Prins
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a good book. Not great, but good. The book is set in Ethiopia, but it doesn't tell a lot about the country or the culture. I think the thing that bugged me the most was Mamo's relationship with his sister - it seemed like Tiggist didn't care about Mamo at all during the book. That was quite disappointing. The rest of the book as a whole was okay, if not a little bit slow.
Brian Olinger
Interesting, but not incredible, book. I’m normally a non-fiction reader who sprinkles in a few fiction books a year. This book was from a Goodreads recommendation. An interesting story with sympathetic characters. I enjoyed it despite some of the narrative stretches taken to bring storylines together.
Musa Style
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is great, just great. It keeps you at the edge of your seat in a very weird way, and there are moments in which you just want to jump and walk around due to what’s happening. A heartwarming story with a neutral ending, a story that shows how life is in Addis Ababa from two polar opposite perspectives. I’d recommend it all the way.
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Laird was born in New Zealand in 1943, the fourth of five children. Her father was a ship's surgeon; both he and Laird's mother were Scottish. In 1945, Laird and her family returned to Britain and she grew up in South London, where she was educated at Croydon High School.
When she was eighteen, Laird started teaching at a school in Malaysia. She decided to continue her adventurous life, even though

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