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A Hole in the World: An American Boyhood Hardcover – September 1, 1990


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rhodes, whose mother committed suicide when he was a year old, recalls how he and his older brother were physically and emotionally devastated by an abusive stepmother and their father's complicity with her. "He explores the minefield of his boyhood with a convincing neutrality that precludes neither love nor hate and allows, in the end, redemption and an unforgettable view of a childhood," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Rhodes, author of the highly acclaimed Making of the Atomic Bomb ( LJ 3/1/87) and Farm ( LJ 10/1/89, "Best Books of 1989," p. 59), begins the story of his boyhood with his mother's suicide, which occurred when he was 13 months old. This act touched every aspect of his life from that day forward. After several itinerant years, his father finally landed Rhodes and his brother Stanley in the house of a ghastly woman who was to become Rhodes's stepmother. Living a tortured existence, Rhodes and his brother were systematically starved, sent out of the house for 12-hour stretches, and deprived of any kind of emotional warmth, except what they could provide for each other. Eventually they were rescued and sent to live on a farm, where they began to heal. This book is a testament to the incredible resiliency of the human spirit. Highly recommended.
- Randy Dykhuis, OCLC, Dublin, Ohio
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (September 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671690663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671690663
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,581,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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A wonderful, beautiful, searing book.
J. C Clark
The book demonstrates how someone can channel a meager and then abusive childhood into becoming a writer of great sensitivity.
hollyberry
I think as the title of his book alludes, he will always have an ache that can't be filled.
Esther Royer Ayers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J. C Clark VINE VOICE on April 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Some books excite you; some bore you; some interest you. This book embraces and engulfs you. It is impossible to imagine anyone reading it without both raging and exhulting. A wonderful, beautiful, searing book. The first paragraph (which I read to my students as an example of 'The Event That Most Changed My Life') will suck you in so far you'll read it with fury, passion, and an intensity that makes both most autobiography seem limp and most writing seem pale. Richard Rhodes is a fine writer, but this book is more than written. It is bled.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I did not read this myself, but heard it read on a local FM station by Dick Estell - the "RADIO READER". I could hardly wait for each day's half hour installment. As the heart-wrenching sorrow and confusion of abuse and abandonment of the author and his brother turned into rescue, trust and healing, this story kept me glued to the radio. Though out of print, it will be inspiring to anyone who loves to see the wonder of human helping human, and the spirit's ability to heal and overcome adversity.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mary C. Kilgour on June 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read Hole in the World while writing the story of my own dismal childhood. It made me realize that mine wasn't as bad as I had thought, even though it was pretty bad. This is a shocking book, one that causes tears to fall thinking about this boy suffering at the hands of a stepmother while his father did nothing, abandoning his responsibilities as a father. It is shocking that school officials and neighbors didn't intervene. Hurray for Stanley's courage in going to the police. Most shocking of all is to know, from volunteer work I do now as a retiree, that this kind of abuse continues and, if anything, society is even less able now to stop it or cope with the effects on its victims.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on May 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a moving memoire of Rhodes' abusive childhood and how he grew out of it but still carries much of it with him. He is such an exquisite writer that every page aches with anger and regret. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand what some foster children go through. One of America's best writers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ct reader on December 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written memoir of childhood hardship, cruelty, and neglect. The author's candor and equanimity in examining a painful history is remarkable, as is the poignant outcome.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Esther Royer Ayers on May 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
"A Hole in the World" was recommended to me by people that had read my memoir. I was astonished to see how much our childhoods were alike. Although my story involves being raised as an Old Order Mennonite, we both had childhoods filled with anguish and fear, the deprivation of a mother's love, and behaviors tailored to whatever you had to do to get through the day. And we both had an essential ingredient that helped us make it in life, and that was teachers that saw potential within us. Mr. Rhodes knew he had raw intelligence, and with the positive influence of his teachers, went on to become the successful writer and person we so greatly admire. He clearly cites his personal difficulties in his adult life for he did not know how to be a father, how to have a happy home. I think as the title of his book alludes, he will always have an ache that can't be filled. This is a book everyone should read for it shows the importance of good teachers and mentors. Their encouragement can say to a child that gets it no where else: You are somebody and you have value.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JackOfMostTrades VINE VOICE on November 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a story that tells itself because the events are so riveting and the prose so clear, there is not need for embellishment. And although it's more or less a straightforward memoir/narrative, it culminates in a wonderful epiphany for any reader who is eager to learn how someone can turn personal tragedy and hardship into a life of contribution. Recommended for humanities, cultural studies, and social science teachers looking for a text that can actually teach the essence of what being human and its trials and adversities is all about. That it is 'unavailable' is truly a travesty.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Emily Zimmerman on April 30, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr Rhodes' writing is clear as a pristine lake, to the bottom of which one can see, with all stones, underwater plants, fish and monsters visible in sharp outline. I could not put the book down; it made me weep; following his story made me feel both tenderness and horror, and led me to both healing of brokenness, and deeper sorrow for brokenness that can never heal.
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