Fifty Plastic Bottles and the Shoeshine Box

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I found this book to be a wildly exciting adventure as the reader follows a boy named Katib through the filthy Old City. Katib’s father, Kareem, is murdered because of a debt in the first chapter of the book. From then on, Katib is sent out by his uncle Bashir to find a job. Katib runs into many problems, as he is either under-skilled for the job or he makes a mistake by stealing from the owner of a company. Bashir is frustrated with Katib and does not know what else to do with him. Katib’s mother is at home with his baby sister, and Katia needs to find a job to help support them. Finally, Bashir makes a shoeshine box for Katib and sends him out to shine people’s shoes for a living. A skill that he can do. Of course, as a young boy, Katib gets sidetracked by a single leather shoe at a dump, and puts his shoeshine box down to look at the shoe. He meets a boy named Gul Khan. Gul Khan collects bottles for a living and reports to a man named Lala. Gul Khan is extremely dirty, as if he had not had a bath for days or even weeks. When I read this part of the story, I wondered why Katib was so in awe of Gul Khan. It seemed the more the story progressed, the more Katib wanted to be like Gul Khan. Initially, Gul Khan said he would help Katib get his shoeshine box back, but only if Katib helped Gul Khan collect fifty bottles.

The book was very exciting because Katib and Gul Khan are chased by a group of older boys who are territorial. The boys threaten Katib and Gul Khan and beat them up, but the two boys are tough and decide they want to steal bottles from Nafees Khan, the leader of the group of boys. Soon, Bashir and Katib’s mother notify the local authorities that Katib is missing. Little do they know all of the places Katib has gone and the people he has met. The understanding of why Gul Khan lives with Lala and other bottle-collecting boys is very obscure; however, the reader could assume that the boys were kidnapped at a very young age because Gul Khan does not remember his own mother or what she looked like. The book has a sad vibe to it, although the boys seem happy living with Lala.

I found this book to have very interesting and colorful characters. Their way of life is very different from that in the United States, but it is still simple things like ice cream on a hot day that bring a smile to a child’s face.

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Star Count 4/5
Format eBook
Page Count 226 pages
Publisher Mosaic Press
Publish Date 2018-Feb-07
ISBN 9789692324106 Buy this Book
Issue February 2019
Category Modern Literature


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