Plot: Stanley Yelnats has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit – he blames the curse inherited from his no-good-dirty-pig-stealing great-great-grand-father – and is sent to a boy’s detention center at Camp Green Lake. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake, only poisonous creatures and holes, countless holes. Every day each of the boys must dig a hole exactly 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep. Stanley soon begins to suspect that the digging is more than a punishment, that the warden is looking for something and he is determined to find it first.
It’s hard to believe that someone could write a thoughtful, engaging and funny novel about digging holes in the desert but Sachar has more than succeeded. I had so much fun reading this novel.
The characters really bring the story together, each is more quirky than the last: from the seed chewing Mr. Sir to Stanley’s shoe recycling father and all the detained boys in between. Some like the warden and Mr. Sir seem one-dimentionally villainous at first but even they have intriguing – if nasty – facets to them. Most interesting to me was Zero, one of the other “campers”, who speaks little and who is assumed to be stupid – and treated as such – but who becomes Stanley’s closest friend and ally. He has a tragic past and surprising courage. Stanley, meanwhile, grows a great deal over the course of the novel: he finds strength, confidence and beats the curse that has weighed on his family for generations.
Weaved deftly into the narrative are the fascinating stories of Stanley’s no-good-dirty-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather (that is just so much fun to say :D), his unlucky great-grand-father and the tragic female bandit Kissing Kate Barlow. The ways in which these stories tie in with the present day narrative have something of destiny about them; they also offer a satisfying sense of redemption and justice.
The short chapters and the dark humour makes this great for reluctant readers but there is something for everyone to enjoy, and to think about.
Holes was made into a movie in 2003. I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t comment on the adaptation but you can watch the trailer below :