Author: Louis Sachar
Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade Literature
Originally Published: 1998
Format: Paperback (240 pages)
Synopsis: Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes.
It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.
My Rating: ★★★★
At a first glance it is easy to question why a book featuring holes, lizards, onions and peaches would be interesting. However, this is a great novel.
I originally read Holes when I was about 13/14 and in high school. We read and studied the book to death and I think that ruined it for me slightly. It was really refreshing picking this up to read again. Rereading opened my eyes to how cleverly written this story is, with three perfectly interwoven stories all coming neatly together at the end. Sachar succeeds in making this a quick read by keeping it a light and entertaining story.
The characters are all well-developed. It is easy to imagine this group of boys repeatedly being sent out into the scorching sun to dig holes all day. It is just as easy to imagine the Warden with her deep red nail polish. This really helps to make this book a great reading experience.
What did I love most about the book?
My favourite aspect of this book is the way in which Sachar succeeds in showing us the stories of the past right in the middle of the present. There isn’t one part of the book where I felt what he was telling me about the past was irrelevant even though this could have easily been the case. I love how perfectly he succeeds in bringing all three stories to an end. Even more perfect when you consider how he used the unlikely friendship between Stanley and Zero to complete the circle.
“It was all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather!”
“When you spend your whole life living in a hole, the only way you can go is up.”
I’m glad I chose to reread this book. My memory of it was definitely tainted by spending too many hours studying this book with an English teacher who did not inspire me at the time. Luckily, my future English teachers did just that and here I am today: blogging about books!
Have you read Holes? What did you think?