A Cardboard Palace is a young adult book, written by Allayne L Webster. Jorge is the focus of the book, a young child who has been trafficked from his home country to Paris, where Bill puts him and other trafficked children to work as thieves and beggars. Jorge is a lovely kid who knows what is happening is wrong but doesn’t know how to change it. Living in the slum shanty town with other disadvantaged people Jorge faces daily struggles to survive and live to his own values. Bill is rich and lavish to himself, and owns an ‘army of thieves’ who he treats poorly.
Jorge meets an Australian chef who works at a restaurant owned by a kind hearted Parisian. Jorge opens up his story to them, seeking help. Though the character of Bill illustrates a horrible side that can exist in humans, the kindness of Jorge and those around him permeates through the story – the friendships, the desire to help each other and the ways in which they can survive is so beautiful and genuine.
A Cardboard Palace looks at human trafficking, poverty, sexual exploitation, friendships, resilience and power and is beautifully written. I read this in one night as I just wanted to know what happened to Jorge and his beautiful band of thieves, and to Bill the evil, power hungry, capitalist controller. I think year eights and up would benefit from this book to see how unbalanced the world is for some, and yet how through ourselves we find relationships that offer some love and balance where we can.