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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jack in Trouble
I first need to confess that I know Jack Gantos and have been a fan of his writing for more than 20 years. This made it particularly difficult to read a book about a painful period in his life. However, this is Jack's best writing and is a story that many teenagers (who believe themselves to be invincible) need to read. It is also first and foremost a compelling story...
Published on March 31, 2002 by TexasReader

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright Book
The story was kind of slow at the beginning, but it got way better towards the end. I like how it talked about the violence and not afraid to talk about drugs and what not.
Published 9 months ago by Drew


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jack in Trouble, March 31, 2002
This review is from: Hole in My Life (Hardcover)
I first need to confess that I know Jack Gantos and have been a fan of his writing for more than 20 years. This made it particularly difficult to read a book about a painful period in his life. However, this is Jack's best writing and is a story that many teenagers (who believe themselves to be invincible) need to read. It is also first and foremost a compelling story that will be hard for anyone to stop reading. Even knowing that all ends well (Jack is an award-winning, highly successful writer), the suspense remains high. It is a harsh tale, and the descriptions of prison life are brutal (as they should be) but ultimately it is a story of a life redeemed. Highly recommended!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting, compelling read., March 21, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Hole in My Life (Hardcover)
I am a children's librarian who read this book and could hardly put it down. I read my (non children's librarian) husband a couple of paragraphs, and he grabbed it the second I was done. He inhaled it and gave it to his best friend, who does not read children's books. The best friend loved it and cannot understand why it is called a young adult novel. He thinks it is great reading for everyone!
A wonderful read by an intriguing, and obviously stubborn and incredibly gifted human being.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CANDID STORY, December 23, 2003
This review is from: Hole In My Life (Audio Cassette)
Popular children's book author and National Book Award finalist, Jack Gantos, now offers a compelling story taken from his own life. It is appropriate that we should hear this in his voice.
Some thirty years ago Gantos dreamed of becoming a writer - a dream that seemed far-fetched as he was cash poor and a drone in a job that was going nowhere.
Quite foolishly the young man made a grab for ten thousand dollars by helping to sail a hashish bearing ship from the Virgin Islands to New York City. Once there, he and his pals sold the drug until they were caught. End result? The young Gantos was sentenced to up to six years in jail.
Yet from what was probably the lowest point in his life the author was able to more than salvage himself; he was almost reborn. Once confined in a cell he made his dream of becoming a writer a reality as he toiled with paper and pen.
There's much for young people to learn from Gantos's story, and accolades are deserved for his candid telling.
- Gail Cooke
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hungry writer takes fork in road, December 13, 2002
By 
Rebecca Brown "rebeccasreads" (Clallam Bay, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hole in My Life (Hardcover)
All writers have pasts, before they write the books for which they become known & respected. Before Jack Gantos wrote his children's books (which, by the way, are brilliant, energetic & absorbing reads!) he had to get some experience in living.
Not many of us would have chosen the fork in the road which Jack Gantos took, faced with a desperate need for cash for college where he hoped to become "a writer." As a naive smuggler, his career didn't last long. It is, however, out of that struggle & ultimate confinement in prison, that the writer I so enjoy, grew, with his unique, taut & restless language.
A super memoir of a youth well spent on ill-gotten gains. Of the chances he got to take other forks in the road on his way to redemption. He paid his dues, did his work, & then got on with his life as a writer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Stuff, March 13, 2006
By 
K. Volz (Rolla, MO USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hole in My Life (Paperback)
This book is so wonderfully written. As others have said, it is an unflinching self-examination. Gantos freely acknowledges his own shortcomings. Better still, he does not self-aggrandize his transition from drifting slacker to convict to living the life he imagined for himself. And he does another rare thing: he communicates the real joy he has found in life without romanticizing or going over the top.

Gantos also doesn't flinch from the reality of his prison life. Again without sensationalizing, Gantos includes the topics of prison homosexuality, rape, and violence. These topics occupy a very small percentage of the account, but make your reading/buying choice accordingly if you have a zero tolerance approach, can't skip a few paragraphs, etc.

I haven't read any of Gantos' fiction, but this made me want to.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hole In My life, October 5, 2005
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Hole in My Life (Hardcover)
Whole In My Life

By Jack Gantos

In Jack Gantos's memoir, Whole In My Life, he describes how he is an average student and an avid reader and wants to become a writer. Caught up in trying to earn money for college, Gantos makes huge mistakes by taking drugs and alcohol and smuggling drugs. I chose this book because it looked like an interesting story. The most important parts of the book are Gantos wanting to become a writer by reading as much as he could, smuggling drugs, and how he turns himself around in prison. As a result of these events, Gantos learns from his mistakes and becomes a better person and a better writer.

One of the most important themes in this memoir is that Gantos is very fond of reading books and wants to become a writer, but can't because of his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Gantos always has a stack of books next to him wherever he goes. Gantos also has dreams of becoming a writer and always keeps a daily journal but can't quite organize it into a story. "I could write stuff down all day, but I could never seem to organize it into anything worth reading (pg.21)." This is an important event because Gantos' inability to organize his thoughts prevents him from becoming a real writer. He realizes when he is in prison that his drug and alcohol abuse is the reason he can't organize his thoughts and become a writer.

One of the biggest mistakes in Gantos's life was smuggling drugs. I think that Gantos made a poor decision just based on the money that was in it for him. "All I heard was the number-ten thousand dollars, cash. This was the jackpot. The answer I was looking for. My exit from St. Croix and my entrance into whatever good school would have me (pg.69.)." I think that Gantos was so caught up in the money that he didn't assess any of the risks that were involved in smuggling the drugs from St. Croix to New York. As a result of his drug smuggling, Gantos ends up in prison and his dreams of becoming a writer are temporarily dashed.

While in prison Gantos realizes that he has to somehow turn his life around. When Gantos is in prison he is not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Gantos is also writing a lot more than usual. From that point on Gantos writes about

his drug smuggling and what he observes in prison. "While in prison, it occurred to me that when I lived at Davy's I could never write about something as unsettling as what I had seen in the hole because when I felt something so intense I jumped up and ran to a bar where I had one drink after another poured into me until I was so numb that I couldn't pour anything back onto paper (pg.185)." This is so important to the author because he realizes that not being under the influence really helps him become a writer.

During this memoir Jack Gantos learns a lot about himself. Gantos learns that he is a good writer but was held back by his weaknesses. He used drugs and alcohol as a crutch when he wasn't feeling good about himself and tried to take the easy way out by getting "quick money" for smuggling drugs. In the end, Gantos realizes that there is no easy way out and that he must work honestly and hard to achieve his dreams.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, April 10, 2011
This review is from: Hole in My Life (Paperback)
First off, I would like to say that I thought this book was excellent. I enjoyed reading it very much. Just to give you some background info on myself, I am 16 and do not read often. I only read when we are assigned a book in class, and I usually end up reading only part of it. Books are generally dull to me, but this one was different. When we were assigned this book in class, I figured I would read for a little bit and then put it down, but when I started reading I couldn't stop flipping page after page of the book. That night I was immediately dragged into the story. The next day I was very ahead of the class because I was so captivated in the book.

This intelligently written and witty book is a story about a boy who becomes a man through a crazy adventure. You feel immersed in his journey as he smuggles 2000 pounds of hash from St. Croix, a small island in the Virgin Islands, to New Jersey with a man who is always naked and has a gun. So he is pretty much crazy, and Jack is stuck on a boat with him in the middle of the ocean. This is just one of the many happenings in the book that puts you on the edge of your seat and makes you want to keep reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hole in my life, October 5, 2005
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Hole in My Life (Hardcover)
Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos is an autobiography. He recounts his coming of age and how he became a writer. Jack Gantos has a hard life growing up and he makes a bad decision that lands him in prison. I chose to read this story because I was interested in the emotion in the passage on the back cover. In the beginning of this story he is nineteen years old, still stuck in high school, and he is already pretty far into some drugs and alcohol, and he works with his dad building crates. In an effort to escape the life he has made for himself he takes up a ten-thousand dollar job offer on a yacht going from the Virgin Islands into New York City. The ship is smuggling drugs and when in New York selling the drugs the federal agents bust them. He then goes to jail, but in my mind it was good for him.'

Growing up Gantos is a misfit. He never feels like he fits in. His family is always moving around because of his dad's work. When they are in Puerto Rico he can't speak the language so he can't even go to school. Gantos and his family ends up in the Virgin Islands. After somewhat cleaning up his act he is working with his dad at his company nailing together crates. One day a strange man comes in asking for crates with false bottoms. This man then offers Gantos a job sailing a yacht to New York City smuggling drugs. The job pays ten-thousand dollars so he stupidly accepts. Once in Ney York City Gantos and the two other smugglers get caught by the federal agents. He is then sent to prison. His first few days at prison are scary, but he ends up getting a job at the hospital. Gantos also learns a lot about himself and life while he is in prison.

I think that being involved in a drug bust and going to prison is important to Gantos because it defines his life. The reason he accepts the job is because he wants to have the money to put himself in college and become a writer. While in prison he keeps a journal between the lines of a book and it ends up being his way of staying sane. When he finally gets out of prison he is somewhat crushed because the book that he has put his life in-between the lines of is still the prisons property and will never leave the walls. Gantos is also optimistic about this and hopes that maybe someone else will read his story and maybe write their own. One of the most emotional points in the book is when he is first freed and he is in the bus. Behind a window that is moving. He finally has the sense that he is going somewhere in his life. I think that the true revelation is when he is free and he goes to the place where he buried a portion of the drugs but he can't drive himself to walk to the exact spot because he never wants to walk down that road again.

I know that Gantos is a misfit when he is young because that is what he chose to name the chapter summarizing that point in his life. I also know that Gantos is nervous and afraid of being in prison because his first night in because he encounters a man who has been raped. The man definitely does not look good and can't even stand up. When Gantos gets out of prison I know it was a very emotional time for him because of the vivid descriptions of everything that he was not used to. He refers to life on the other side of the barbed fence as "heaven". Also when he gets out and his diary cannot come with him I know he is crushed because he offers to pay forty dollars (all the money he has to his name) for it.

Gantos learns a lot in the life that he records in this book. He learns that decisions your make can catch up to you in a very serious way later on. He also learns that he is a strong independent person. He realizes that he really doesn't need drugs to cope with his problems. While working in the hospital he sees a lot of things that can happen in prison and it makes him more cautious. Gantos also learns that the little things in life are important. When he first gets out of prison everything is amazing to him. He is a much more humble person that loves life and for that reason I think prison ended having a positive outcome on his life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All I heard was the number-ten thousand dollars, cash, January 25, 2005
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Hole in My Life (Hardcover)
Hole in My Life

Jack Gantos

Biography

5/5

Review by Chris Eden

November 2004

Jack Gantos is a highly acclaimed author for kids books nation wide. In second, third, and maybe even fourth grade my class and I were hooked on his books. We would read all of the Joey Pigza books, most of which won Newbery medals. Now years later in seventh grade I read his newest book Hole in My Life. At first when I saw the book, I had totally forgotten about who Jack Gantos was. I didn't even think it was a Biography, until I read the back of the book.

The book goes back about thirty years ago to when Jack was in his twenties. He was a man who dreamed of being a writer a dream that seemed far-fetched as he was cash poor and a drone in a job that was going nowhere. Being a young man he did probably the most foolish thing of his whole life. Jack had no money and was trying to afford his next thing in life, college. He took a big grab, for ten thousand dollars he recklessly chose to help sail a sixty-foot yacht loaded with hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his parents sold the drug until they were caught. Jack was sentenced to serve six whole years in jail. While in jail Gantos wrote a lot, and his dream became even bigger.

Now as you read all of Jack Ganto's books it amazes you that this happened. After jail Gantos was like reborn. It teaches kids a very valuable lesson that Gantos just had to learn it the hard way. I would give this book 5 out of 5 for Biographies. This is a must read for any kid looking for a biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Book, June 13, 2006
This review is from: Hole in My Life (Paperback)
This is has been the best book I have read this school year. I have always tried to read many of other of Jack Gantos books but I found them boring and slow, but this book is actually really great. It is a great auto biography and very well written. All Jack wanted was the money; he never really thought what would happen if he caught, all he was thinking about was the money. Jack just wanted the money for a good college. He took the offer and sailed a boat with 500 pounds of hash aboard of it. On the boat was Hamilton the other man who agreed to take the offer. All they had to do was sailing the boat to New York and not get caught. They eventually got to New York and met up with Rik the man who offered them the deal. They made a couple of stops to drop off hash and get paid. After one stop a car was following them and they ran into the hotel and Hamilton and Rik got caught. Somehow Jack slipped away. For the next month Jack was being followed by F.B.I agents and eventually Jack turned himself in. Jack did get a lawyer first and eventually lost his case. Jack got sent to prison and spent about 28 months in prison.

The book did have a happy ending and one of the greatest endings I have ever read. While I was reading this I had so many different emotions. I felt bad for him and then the next minute I thought he was so dumb to do this. But the ending did make me really happy. Overall this was one of the best books I have read, ever.
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Hole in My Life
Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos (Paperback - April 24, 2012)
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