Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Review: Holes – Louis Sachar

Holes – Louis Sachar

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.

Review: This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I’m so happy that I got a chance to reread it as an adult.

Stanley Yelnats is accused of stealing a pair of shoes from a charity auction and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a detention center for young boys. Unfortunately, the lake is dry, and the boys spend their days digging holes. The Warden says that digging holes builds character, but Stanley knows that the Warden is desperately searching for something.

Like I said, this was one of my favorite books as a child. I loved the mystery, the humor, the vivid desert landscape, and the poisonous yellow-spotted lizards. This book completely captured my young imagination. I was worried for Stanley and Zero when they tried to run away from camp, and I was excited when the story came together at the end. I remember reading this book over and over and never getting tired of it. I still have the copy that my parents gave me. I read it so many times that the pages are starting to fall out.

As an adult, I can appreciate how intricate and tightly plotted this book is. The author weaves together three stories that demonstrate how history never dies. The decisions made by Stanley’s ancestors are still impacting his family. Some of his ancestors made better decisions than others.

The author makes the transitions between the stories look effortless, and everything comes together perfectly in the end. It’s really impressive when you think about it.

This book is about compassion, building friendships, righting wrongs, and persevering when life gets hard. Those are all important lessons for children (and adults) to learn.

It’s great when a book stands up to second, or third, or hundredth readings. I’m so happy that I still love Holes as much as I did when I was a child.

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