Title: Holes (Holes #1)
Author: Louis Sachar
Publication Date: September 2nd 2000
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
“It was all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather!”
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. – Excerpt from Goodreads.
I can’t believe I didn’t read this when I was younger! Thankfully, I finally picked it up and gave it a shot.
Holes is about Stanley, an overweight young boy who after accidentally stealing a shoe (yes, accidently!) goes to trial for theft. He is then forced by the judge to pick between jail time or go to Camp Green Lake. Stanley, of course, chooses the camp option thinking it will be fun and games and at least he will get to swim, hence the lake. However, when Stanley gets to the camp he sees it is nothing but dirt – no lake, no fun, just dirt. The owner is looking for something in the dirt and making all the boys at the camp dig holes all day long and giving them very little water. They have to dig holes that are exactly five feet long and five feet deep before they can rest for the day. Stanley is determined to find out what the owner wants them to find so badly.
This book is such a gem. Stanley is perfect as the protagonist/narrator, he is sympathetic but never really complains that much about his situation, even though he knows that he isn’t being treated fairly. I would’ve complained the whole time, so he’s a better person than me! The book also features some great side characters, my favorite being the illiterate boy named Zero. His main goal is that he just wants to learn to read. His character feels very genuine and really easy to relate to. Maybe you know how to read but we all have things that we fall short on and might be embarrassed to tell others about. I, for one, am terrible at math and science but, unlike Zero I didn’t fix that situation.
What I really love about this book is that it’s not sappy in its message, it’s just good storytelling. I actually have no complaints about this one. I read it in one evening, so it’s a very fast read and I think this can be loved by children and adults equally. I was shocked to learn that this book has banned in the past due to parents finding the morals questionable. It just boggles my mind, it never occurred to me that there could be anything the slightest bit offensive to anyone. I guess people always have to find something to freak out about. I don’t understand the banning, but then again I can say that with a lot of banned books. However, this book is perfectly appropriate for young children. I would guess seven or eight years old is about the right time to start in on this one. Younger, depending on your child’s reading level.
Five stars from me and highly recommended.