Friday, November 16, 2012


by Louis Sachar
Farrar, Straus and Giroux | 1996

I had forgotten how amazing Holes is. As a Newbery winner, it obviously is good, but it's not just good--it's truly amazing. I know two of the people who were on the Newbery committee that year, actually. I'm so pleased they chose this book. If you've read this book before, read it again. And if you know a child of either gender between the ages of 10 and 18, give it to them to read or read again. It's that good.

Stanley Yelnats is fat and bullied. His family struggles economically and things are pretty tough. One day, while he's walking along, a pair of sneakers falls from the sky, clocks Stanley in the head, and he's arrested for stealing them. Turns out they are some valuable sneakers. He's sent off to Camp Green Lake, in the middle of the desert in Texas. And there he is made to dig a hole each day, alongside the rest of the campers/prisoners who are also digging holes. The holes must be exactly 5 feet deep, 5 feet wide, and 5 feet across in every direction. They measure with their shovels. The Warden is looking for something.

When Zero is punished one day for helping Stanley dig his holes in return for reading lessons, he takes off across the desert and is left for dead. Stanley follows the next day, and together, they survive the desert, hatch a plan, and return to camp. In the grand climax of the story, all the pieces of the book fall together--stories told intermittently throughout the text involving Stanley's great-great-grandfather and a family curse and the story of the woman outlaw Kate Barlow and her forbidden love, Sam the onion man.

I don't own this book, but I'm going to buy a copy right now. You should too. (Note: I've not seen the movie, but if you've only seen the movie and never read the book--get the book. I bet it's better.)

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