Holes: a book recommendation

5 out of 5 stars.

I grew up reading (and loving) Louis Sachar, so Holes is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for ages. But ut wasn’t until I saw praise of it on Katharine Owen’s blog, that I actually did pick it up.

Well, all I can say is it was worth the wait. I’m glad I read this book as an adult–as a writer–so I could fully appreciate how deftly the story was handled.

And so, Stanley Yelnats seems set to serve an easy sentence, which is only fair because he is as innocent as you or me. But Stanley is not going where he thinks he is. Camp Green Lake is like no other camp anywhere. It is a bizarre, almost otherworldly place that has no lake and nothing that is green. Nor is it a camp, at least not the kind of camp kids look forward to in the summertime. It is a place that once held “the largest lake in Texas,” but today it is only a scorching desert wasteland, dotted with countless holes dug by the boys who live at the camp.

At Camp Green Lake, 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 treacherous warden is searching for something, and before long Stanley begins his own search—for the truth.

From page one, seemingly innocuous clues are planted–one after the other–until everything finally meets up in the climax for an ending so packed with resonance, I literally had tears in my eyes. (Tears of respect and awe… It’s an author-thing, I guess.)

Stanley’s character is one you instantly love and instantly sympathize with. The other boys at camp, who each have their own stories and hidden connections to the main plot, are just as appealing as the MC, while the strange camp staff keep you  on edge yet wanting to know more.

What is really going on at Camp Green Lake? And why are the boys digging so many holes?

But, to be totally honest, the best part of the book for me was the chunk of movie-related text at the end, in which Mr. Sachar explains how it took him 5 drafts to write the novel. He describes how he couldn’t see how everything would connect until he’d rewritten and revised the book over and over again. Thank GOD I am not the only person like this. I cannot express how far that little paragraph went to soothe my sensitive writer’s ego.

So if you like mystery, stories with lots of heart, or tales of redemption, then Holes is the book for you.

You tell me: Have you read Holes? What did you think?