The Glass Collector
Ana Perera




Fifteen-year-old Aaron lives amongst the rubbish piles in the slums of Cairo. His job is to collect broken glass. His life is wasted. His hope is to find a future he can believe in . . .

Cairo pulses from its pages, dirty, smelly but intoxicating; 'the magic's everywhere.' The tale sparkles like the glass Aaron hoards, light and delicate and full of dreams. (The Economist )

A powerful rendering of human struggle, resilience, and hope. (Publishers Weekly )
Adam, from Jewish Community Secondary School

I enjoyed this book when the action started. The plot took a while to become clear so at times, I felt like stopping reading it. But it was good because it had an interesting story to it.

I thought it showed the contrast between the rich and poor of one city well and gave a brilliant insight to the lives of people living in poverty. It made clear the differences between our lives and those of the people in the book.

If I were to have written this book, I would make the plot clear earlier than it did and make it less 'this is what happened today' and put in more events. Despite all this, I enjoyed it so I'm happy.

The things that were good about the book are: The good plot. All books need a good plot line. The interesting story; this made the book good. The twists and turns, the way it showed Aaron's emotions well and...

This isn't a book for anyone looking for action. But people who like books that don't have much action but are a good read and occasional twists, they will like this and I recommend this book.

Overall, I would give this book 4 stars because it kept me interested.

Avani, from Wren Academy Barnet

The Glass Collector is a wonderful book with a very strong message and has been successfully conveyed by the writer – Anna Perera. She has created a wonderful character and effectively linked the character ‘Aaron’ with the story. The book has a flow of interest for the reader so that he/she will not get bored. Also Anna Perera has portrayed the message in a way that is enjoyable and easy to understand but on the other hand, she has also maintained the seriousness of the issue.

Anna Perera has written a fantastic book that engages the reader very quickly. One technique that is used for this is that in the blurb, she has written only short sentences with a big meaning. This is extremely effective as it makes the reader want to know more so therefore he/she will read the book out of interest. As the interest level is high the reader won’t get a chance to not want to know about what’s going to happen next.

The target audience for this book is probably teenagers or adults as they will be able to understand the complex plot quickly.

Overall recommendation for this book would be a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Bea, from Wren Academy Barnet

Aaron, aged only fifteen, lives in the slums of Cairo. He is a rubbish collector, but not in the way that you imagine. Not all the clean gloves and rubbish bins. Completely different to that. He is a Zabaleen, someone who acts as an informal glass collector. He goes around the businesses of the city and collects the rubbish to take home, where he sorts it into different types of material. Spending hours searching through the dangerous materials, through medical waste, drug syringes and all manner of horrible stuff, just to find that one thing he can sell.

But that isn’t the whole story. The book also covers his relationship with his step-family, his life in Cairo and his love of coloured glass.

Overall this was a very good book, and I would recommend it.

Belle, from Wren Academy Barnet

This book really makes you feel sorry for Aaron as he is forced to do many things we wouldn't even dream of having to do. As Aaron battles with daily life there are problems he faces at home such as not enough food and his constant battle with his stepbrother. I would suggest this book to twelve to fourteen year olds as it has some dramatic scenes and some violence. This is a very good book with a lot of good parts, the beginning is disappointing but as you come to the middle it gets better and by the end it's a great book. I would recommend this book highly.

Daniyah, from Copthall School, Barnet

I enjoyed reading this book.  Most parts of the book were quite interesting and made me want to read on and on to find out what happens next.  This book has an unusual plot and is unique.  It allowed me to explore the lives of people living in countries on the other side of the world, with different lifestyles.

I found the characters rather interesting and I liked the plot of the story.  My favourite thing about the author’s writing style is the detail when describing something.  I like picturing every detail in my head.

One thing that the story lacked was suspense.  I think the book was a bit slow and needed to be more ‘to the point.’  Sometimes I didn’t understand the point of the information or maybe the author wrote too much about one thing, when they should have moved on.

However, I love the way there were so many twists to the story and things that surprised me while I was reading.  I liked it when something unexpected happened, but I can’t state examples because it will ruin it for anyone else who’s planning to read it.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about people with different lifestyles.

Eda, from The Mount School

The Glass Collector is a moving book with themes of poverty, hope, and romance. Growing up in Cairo, Aaron experiences many day-to-day struggles. He faces a hard life in the slums with his family, and also he has great hopes and dreams which he has to deal with.

Aaron is an ordinary, unfortunate teenager living in the slums of Mokattam. Mokattam is a small village, and like any other village, it has its gossip, every day challenges and dramas. With a head full of dreams, Aaron tries and manages to stay put in the real world. How does he do this? The answer is Rachel. Rachel, also an ordinary teenager, has a big influence on Aaron in every way. Will Aaron’s dreams come true?

This book is written in the third person, showing different people’s perspectives. This gives it extra interest as other people’s views can solve unanswered questions.

Overall, this is a captivating, thoughtful and generous read. The writer keeps you transfixed with the story by using highly descriptive vocabulary that helps to form a clear picture in your mind of what is happening.

Gabe, from Jewish Community Secondary School

This book was really enjoyable and very interesting. It takes a while to get into so keep reading and it will get better the more you do.

It starts with a boy called Aaron and basically paints his life from when you first meet him to him in a year or so. It has lots of ups and downs and highs and lows which really glues you to the book.

It is unpredictable and completely makes sense. You learn who the characters are and really feel sorry for them. It makes you happy sad excited and thrilled.

I would recommend this book. I would rate it 8/10 

Lily, from East Barnet School

The Glass Collector is about a group of people who collect and recycle Cairo’s rubbish to earn a living. Aaron is fifteen, his mother is dead and he lives with his stepfather and two older stepbrothers in Cairo’s hidden city Mokattam where all the inhabitants collect, sort and recycle rubbish. Every day he wakes, travels to Cairo with Lijah, his nasty stepbrother, to collect glass and other trash. He then returns, exhausted, to sort through the rubbish with his stepfamily. Only once that is finished he can eat his small and only meal of the day.

The Glass Collector is about Aaron’s struggle and how he tries to make his life better. He loves glass and beauty and wants to make his life beautiful and fair. He tries hard to make the people he cares about happy.

I absolutely love this book; I think it is gripping, fascinating and brilliantly written. Aaron’s story is so sad and touching that I could hardly put it down. Especially as the book is based on a real town and people. The only part of the book I didn’t particularly enjoy was the very beginning because it had an unrealistic part that didn’t seem to be of any importance in the rest of the book, however I didn’t mind. I would like to read Anna Perera’s other book, Guantanamo Boy, because I think she is an amazing writer and all her books are probably superb.

I would recommend The Glass Collector to all teenagers and adults. It shows that people should be grateful for what they have because there are always people in a worse situation and that anyone can survive if they believe. All in all I think The Glass Collector is a touching story that everyone should read.

Maddy, from Wren Academy Barnet

The Glass Collector is a beautifully written and well thought out story. It is set in Cairo and is all about Aaron, a young Zabbaleen boy who has to sort through rubbish to earn a living for him and his family. At times the book can be shocking and sad when you hear about the tough ordeals this 15 year-old needs to go through. These descriptions are upsetting and emotive and it makes you think about how lucky you are to not have to work under the sweltering sun to get food. Although the story ends on an inspiring note that shows you what can happen if you are hopeful that things can get better.

I loved how, as well as Aaron’s story, there were lots of other stories about the different characters that Aaron knows. For example, Shareen’s wedding and Rebecca’s broken leg.

Overall, I believe this is a powerful and thoughtful story and I would recommend it for all 11 - 13 year olds . It captured my interest from start to finish. A fantastic and moving novel!

Nicole, from Wren Academy Barnet

The writing of The Glass Collector is beautiful and made the reader imagine easily what’s going on.  My opinion is that this book is for above the age of 12 years old.  I find it very interesting for the setting in Egypt as normally it’s somewhere in England. 

Anna Perera makes the reader have a strong grudge for Lijah in the beginning and the middle of the book for the bullying of Aaron.

Aaron is a nice character and I felt sympathy for him… especially the story of his mother died right underneath his eyes and how she was pale. Including everyone, in his family, was being mean and unfair because he was the youngest as he always needs to do the work. It was fascinating how Aaron found an interest for glass, which isn’t a common. However, I found it a bit too extreme at the end when he was happy that Hosi was dead…. I know that he ruined his life but I don’t think you should be happy for a death whoever it is.

Near the end I could feel that it was developing to a love from Shareen to Aaron as suddenly she was trying to gather his attention… so the kiss was a tiny bit expected. But even with Rachel I knew that she was going to end up with Rachel. I found it so sweet when Rachel was recovering from the accident he looked after the ponies… and my heart skipped a beat when Rachel admitted that she liked him and wanted to marry him.

Surprisingly Lijah was nice at the end, to Aaron… Maybe it was his wife but I’m not quite sure if it’s that… I don’t know but I just felt like it wasn’t that. However, I’m happy it was a happy ending for Aaron and with his new artist skill. Plus it is good that he doesn’t steal anymore which is a satisfaction.

I found it enjoyable to be able to read about Aaron’s adventure and imagine like I’m there. I could definitely read it again as it was a brilliant work!

Ondlekile, from The Mount School

The Glass Collector by Anna Perera takes place in Egypt. This book takes readers into the real life trash cities located in Cairo. A fifteen-year-old boy named Aaron has a job as a trash collector. Every day he leaves his smelly home to go and search the alleyways of Cairo for pieces of precious glass that can be recycled. The family of four just scrapes by, but when their source of transport was ruined life became awful. After Aaron was accused of stealing he was thrown out of his house. He needed to find a way to survive with nothing but his dreams and love.

I thought Anna Perera did a great job of making the reality of the poverty understandable.  The imagery was wonderful too and I felt I was sifting through trash looking for my next meal. I loved the way Aaron was characterized. Anna Perera did a great job with making his crisis so real. He is a hard, unloving boy on the outside, but  loving on the inside. I like how all of the characters including Aaron’s uncle, brother, best friend, and neighbour all have very different personalities.

The Glass Collector was very engaging and had me continue reading after each chapter. In most chapters an event occurred that was important to the story line. It was not predictable either. I give this book 4/5 stars

Rosalind, from Wren Academy Barnet

The Glass Collector is about a young Zabbaleen boy who works as a glass collector in the slums of Mokattan, Cairo he is an orphan and is bullied by his older stepbrother. Next door to him lives a stroppy teenage girl who dreams of living in a rich area and marring a rich hot footballer. Life in the slum they live in is hard and the boy gets in big trouble if he doesn’t collect enough glass. 

One of the main themes of The Glass Collector is hope; hope of finding a life out of the slums; hope of getting rid of his horrible step family. 

I think that The Glass Collector is a book that will stay with me forever because of the problems that the boy faces. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a gripping story...

Sam, from Jewish Community Secondary School

In this book Ana Perera captures unheard of types of poverty in a nutshell. In this moving book about a young, deprived teenager, Aaron, she details his life with a horrible step family and his love of glass and his love of a local girl, Rachel.  Perera shows the struggles of the Zabbaleen  people who live just outside the dirty hustle and bustle of Egypt`s most popular capital, Cairo. 

The best bits about reading this book were not only the story line but also the great way it is written. At the beginning of the book (about the first 5-8 chapters) a new character was introduced each chapter with the respective chapter named after its respective character.

I personally enjoy reading books with more of an action styled story line so this book wasn`t my normal choice but I still enjoyed reading about Aaron`s struggles and the romantic twist to the book. Overall I would give this book 7 out of 10.  

Selsebil, from Wren Academy Barnet

“Fifteen year old Aaron lives among the rubbish piles in the slums of Cairo. HIS JOB? To collect broken glass. HIS LIFE? Wasted. HIS HOPE? To find a future he can believe in”! I think the blurb just explains it all...

At the beginning the book is just a pile of threads where eventually they get sewn together accurately to create a perfect finished piece by the end. Anna Perera skillfully threads in some twists within the plot, effectively keeping an interest throughout. Her characters are complicated, mysterious and appealing! The Glass Collector is very realistic as it reflects the reality of poverty struggles in the streets of Cairo by showing the difficulty Zabbaleen (Egyptian garbage collectors) face in Mokattam. However, there are only two things that keep them going... hope and religion – Christianity. Aaron, being the main character, is depicted as a weak persona that tends to be picked on by most people especially when his mother died; he experienced a rollercoaster of emotions and various dilemmas/situations. How would you react if your own step brother pushed of the cart into the road so you can get run over?

What Anna Perera cleverly does is allows us to feel guilty of the state of the Zabbaleen, as although the narration is fiction it is in some cases existent because of our careless attitudes to parts of a different country. Luckily her trip to Cairo inspired her to write such a moving book; not only does it educate you about current problems in certain countries of the world but it generally is a masterpiece. 

Sophie, from Wren Academy Barnet

This is an enthralling novel. From the moment you open the first page I was shocked to see the reality of life for Aaron.  I have heard of rubbish collectors before (even seen it on TV) but nothing showed the hardship and suffering like The Glass Collector.

Aaron is so hard to describe. He has to work from a young age; he is bullied by his brother, and often does not have enough food. Despite his hardship and unimaginable suffering, Aaron still has a remarkable spirit and being in a community seems to be enough for him. 

This book was the most poignant of the six WeRead books. I learnt so much from this book. I learnt that others my own age and younger face unbelievable hardship beyond my imagination.  I also learnt that community spirit is important - even in the most trying situations.

I loved this book and it is a recommended read.

Theodora, from Wren Academy Barnet

The Glass Collector by Anna Perera is a gripping love story. Aaron who is only fifteen is scouring the streets for glass as his only way of surviving.

This book greatly interested me and has taught me a lot about our world and how people are living. It also gripped me due to the powerful language and I could relate to the characters and to feel as I was part of the story. Although I enjoyed the story I thought it went off track at times and I quickly lost interest, but as the story developed it became more enjoyable.

I liked how the author used a real story to translate what was going on in the world and I strongly recommend this to everyone! Star rating: ****

Tom, from Jewish Community Secondary School

The Glass Collector  is a descriptive, moving book; set in the slums of Cairo (Mokattam) which helped me realise ‘With hope, anything is possible’. Fifteen year old Aaron works in the heat of Cairo, collecting glass to be sold off to the merchant at the end of the month (at next to no money), with his step-brother Lijah who bullies him. The only thing keeping him going is one shop, Omar’s perfume shop, where Aaron can spend hours on end listening to Omar talk and marvelling at the sweet scented perfume he knows he will never be able to afford.  As the desire for the bottles overcomes him, Aaron does something he regrets...

For me Anna Perera has balanced the tragedy and fortune perfectly, it keeps the reader constantly engaged and on the edge of their seat throughout the entire story. The different topics explored throughout the book guarantees every reader will enjoy different elements of the book and think about it in different ways. The Glass Collector  has well thought-out characters, which fit in with the storyline and setting perfectly.  I loved it! 8.5/10.

Zinnia, from Wren Academy Barnet

The Glass Collector is about a 15-year-old boy called Aaron who works in the rubbish dumps of Cairo. He lives in Mokattam (which is a slum in Cairo) and is one of the Zabbaleen people who live there. He has spent most of his life collecting broken glass but he dreams of a better future. He lives with his stepfamily who do not treat him as well as they should.

I did not really enjoy this book because I didn’t feel drawn into it and it was not the genre I enjoy. I think this book is quite educational, but it is not something I would read voluntarily.

Unputdownability 4 (there were some parts of the story I really liked but most of the time I didn’t feel myself wanting to read it); Plot 6 (this book had a good plot but there were some bits I didn’t like) Well written 8; Overall 4 (The book just wasn’t my cup of tea)