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?
Roz Morris fiction
October 23, 2011 @ 11:31 am
On my reading list too. And thanks to your review, it’s moved up several rungs. Thank you
October 23, 2011 @ 2:30 pm
Awesome!! Let me know what you think. 😀
October 23, 2011 @ 10:16 am
I love ‘Holes’ too! I must have read it at least 8 times! Everything was woven together so beautifully and nothing seemed like an afterthought or just a ‘filler’. I feel the same way about the ending. Great review!
October 23, 2011 @ 12:17 pm
I remmember reading this for one of my english classes in Primary:P Oh the fateful snake nail varnish scene:P And the fake warden in contrast to the A-hole one. And the onions…which was kind of randomXD
October 23, 2011 @ 2:34 pm
Ah, the onions! I SO didn’t see that coming, but I loooooved how he wove it in. So random–you’re totally right–but also so awesome!!
October 23, 2011 @ 2:45 pm
I love this book! 😀
October 24, 2011 @ 6:25 pm
Yay! We share similar tastes–no surprise. 😉
October 23, 2011 @ 4:39 pm
There were a lot of English classes at my school that had to read this book and I never ended up in any of them. (Instead I ended up with stuff like Moby Dick and Hard Times and other incredibly boring classics.) Thanks for the reminder that I still need to read it!
October 24, 2011 @ 6:25 pm
Ah, yes… I was fortunate enough to be in the “cool reading” classes, and I always felt bad for you kids. Of course, HOLES wasn’t out until I was in high school (ack! I’m old!).
October 23, 2011 @ 8:22 pm
I totally remember this from, like, grade 3! All the different plot strands from different times — and I gotta say my favourite part was when Zero (was it Zero? I think it was Zero) said, “Hey Stanley, is your last name your first name spelled backwards?” That was like, THE point of revelation for my little seven-year-old mind. 😀 I’m positive I missed a ton of subtle clues, but now I’m uber-hyped to read it again!
October 24, 2011 @ 6:26 pm
I KNOW, YAHONG. My heart FLIPPED when I read that line. And then when you figure out Zero’s real name and his connection to Stanley–holy crap, I started crying out of awe.
Such a good book.
October 25, 2011 @ 4:27 am
This is my absolute favorite book ever! 🙂 I always talk it up to other adults who think it’s just for kids. 🙂
October 25, 2011 @ 8:05 am
AH! Absolute favorite!? AWESOME! I’m so glad you spread it to adults–it’s most definitely *not* a kid-only read!
May 3, 2016 @ 3:30 pm
i read this book in year seven and i simply loved it!!!!