Holes by Louis Sachar Review
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 Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. 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. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.
I remember that Holes was popular when I was a teenager but it just didn’t interest me enough to try to read it at the time. Left to my own devices, I still probably wouldn’t have picked it up for myself. Surprisingly the story has a lot of elements to it that I’ve always enjoyed–magic, friendship, a historical timeline–at least part of the time, and society values and perspectives, mixed in a modern, realistic world, or what was modern when the book was published. I am a multi-genre lover after all.
Their weren’t really any surprises anywhere in this book for me. But I can’t say whether or not all of it was because I picked up on the clues, I’m too old for the book, or because I have very vague memories of listening to six or seven book reports on the book as a child.
Stanley is an interesting character–not something I normally ran into at that age. He’s heavy and tall, which gave him the nickname of “Caveman” while at Camp Green Lake. However he is bullied in school, and by a kid smaller than him…a fact that confuses his teachers. He starts with low confidence but slowly finds his voice and who he is at Camp Green Lake, despite the degrading circumstances he finds himself in. It’s a coming of age story that feels realistic. Some of the stuff stretched the coincidental line. I would rather have seen Stanley or Zero somehow get out of the mess with the warden and the lizards instead of having both of them saved by a patent lawyer. But, I believe, in the end every character got what they deserved.
The book was a quick read and something I would recommend reading, especially to those around ten or eleven years old.