Review by: Deb Broadwater
A resonant, visionary novel about the power of art and the sacrifices we are willing to make for the ones we love
A few generations from now, the coastlines of the continent have been redrawn by floods and tides. Global powers have agreed to not produce any new plastics, and what is left has become valuable: garbage is currency.
In the region-wide junkyard that Appalachia has become, Coral is a “plucker,” pulling plastic from the rivers and woods. She’s stuck in Trashlands, a dump named for the strip club at its edge, where the local women dance for an endless loop of strangers and the club’s violent owner rules as unofficial mayor.
Amid the polluted landscape, Coral works desperately to save up enough to rescue her child from the recycling factories, where he is forced to work. In her stolen free hours, she does something that seems impossible in this place: Coral makes art.
When a reporter from a struggling city on the coast arrives in Trashlands, Coral is presented with an opportunity to change her life. But is it possible to choose a future for herself?
Told in shifting perspectives, Trashlands is a beautifully drawn and wildly imaginative tale of a parent’s journey, a story of community and humanity in a changed world.
I’m back again!
Deb here, and this time it’s to review another novel by one of my newest favorite writers, Alison Stine. After reading and reviewing her first novel, Road Out of Winter, I jumped at the chance to read and review this one.
Trashlands is a story of true resilience, crafted in only a way someone who lived in Appalachia could give it proper justice, and Stine brings readers yet another believable story of a new dystopia. The ways of electronics and life in general have changed drastically due to a climate crisis, especially in lower class regions, leaving people to resort to bartering and a long-time tradition: the sex trade. It’s a world in which most housing is in buses or cars, and stripping and sex work are still viable ways to earn a living. Trading raw materials (such as plastic) is the modern currency. Among the junkyard of the Trashlands, there are a diverse group of people who become like a family, using their individual knowledge, skillsets, and of course their bodies to try to survive inside a region where very few are prosperous and most never escape. There are many individual storylines that when intertwined paint a clear picture of the struggles and resourcefulness that they have each faced in their quest for survival. The sum of each individual story gives credence to how the community bands together to help one another survive.
Despite the setting of the book, the themes are eerily current and the characters are relatable. The storyline is easy to follow, while sucking the reader in, keeping them interested. The only complaint I have is how the book ends, which is a recurring theme with her books. The ending is left open, I’m assuming in case she wants to revisit the characters, but it leaves me desperate for more.
Purchase link: Amazon
Author’s Twitter: @AlisonStine
Special thanks to HarperCollins for the advance review copy of Trashlands supplied to TehBen.com. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
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