8) Holes

By: Louis Sachar

Re-read Finished: 02.24.14

By Louis Sachar

Stanley Yelants was given a choice.  The judge said, “You may go to jail, or you may go to Camp Green Lake.”  Stanley was from a poor family.  He had never been to camp before.

Stanley Yelnats is an unlucky kid who was sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit.  He ends up at Camp Green Lake where there is neither a lake nor anything that’s green.  There, the boys are forced to dig holes every day, on the pretense that it builds character.  Despite the unfairness of his situation, Stanley finds the courage to take charge of his life for the first time and along the way uncovers the secret of the holes.

I first read this book as part of my language arts class in seventh grade.  By this time, I had been drawn in by a persistent rumor that the books you read for class are always uninteresting.  Looking back, my experience had not yet substantiated that claim, but I still approached the book with low expectations.  Boy, was I blown away.

It’s not just a story of an outcast becoming a hero, like my short little description indicates.  There are two additional stories weaving through – the story of Stanley’s no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-grandfather and of the town of Greenlake when it was thriving around an actual lake.  All three stories have vibrant characters and a tongue in cheek explanation of serious situations.  The stories connect in many unexpected ways, wrapped up in a rather tidy, but well-earned bow.

It’s fun and slightly offbeat, a flawless example of magical realism.  While it was written for a young audience, it’s smart and holds up over the years.  As always, it was a blast to return to this world and I am immensely grateful to my seventh grade English teacher for putting this in the curriculum.

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