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Holes Paperback – May 9, 2000
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"If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy." Such is the reigning philosophy at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention facility where there is no lake, and there are no happy campers. In place of what used to be "the largest lake in Texas" is now a dry, flat, sunburned wasteland, pocked with countless identical holes dug by boys improving their character. Stanley Yelnats, of palindromic name and ill-fated pedigree, has landed at Camp Green Lake because it seemed a better option than jail. No matter that his conviction was all a case of mistaken identity, the Yelnats family has become accustomed to a long history of bad luck, thanks to their "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!" Despite his innocence, Stanley is quickly enmeshed in the Camp Green Lake routine: rising before dawn to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet in diameter; learning how to get along with the Lord of the Flies-styled pack of boys in Group D; and fearing the warden, who paints her fingernails with rattlesnake venom. But when Stanley realizes that the boys may not just be digging to build character--that in fact the warden is seeking something specific--the plot gets as thick as the irony.
It's a strange story, but strangely compelling and lovely too. Louis Sachar uses poker-faced understatement to create a bizarre but believable landscape--a place where Major Major Major Major of Catch-22 would feel right at home. But while there is humor and absurdity here, there is also a deep understanding of friendship and a searing compassion for society's underdogs. As Stanley unknowingly begins to fulfill his destiny--the dual plots coming together to reveal that fate has big plans in store--we can't help but cheer for the good guys, and all the Yelnats everywhere. (Ages 10 and older) --Brangien Davis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
PW's starred review of the 1999 Newbery Medal winner described it as a "dazzling blend of social commentary, tall tale and magic realism." Ages 10-up. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
And I did have a few. I enjoy the layout of the book & how, of course, each successive hole that is dug is harder than the last. I like the precarious, yet tenuous comradery of the boys. I like the odd layout of all the characters, adolescents & adults, alike. What's not to like about old gypsies & singing lullabies to pigs, whole generations of people who spell their names the same backwards as forwards, and an onion dealer who has more status than the local doctor? And I certainly enjoy the random Yelnats history thrown in for prosperity, though I was certainly thrown for a loop when past interracial tensions lead to a rather brutal murder.
Unfortunately, the culmination of the book, the big resolved mystery ...falls flat. It just isn't interesting. As a matter of fact, by the time the mystery comes to its pinnacle, not only is the outcome not at all creative (not one bit), but it isn't even presented very convincingly, either, not to mention that it is all just suddenly SO easy & without any challenge. The end is rotten silly (in a less than flattering way), even for a goofy nonsensical good-timey book like this. Too bad.