Book Review: Holes by Louis Sachar

Title: Holes
Author: Louis Sachar
Genre: Middle grade fiction
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.

Stanley Yelnats has terrible luck, and it’s all because of his dirty rotten no-good pig-stealing great-great-grandfather. For generations, his family has suffered under a curse of bad luck, and Stanley’s simply the latest victim. He has been convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sentenced to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp for troubled boys. At the camp, he meets the Warden and her sidekick, Mr. Sir. Their method of reforming the boys is to force them each to dig a hole every day, five feet wide and five feet deep. It soon becomes clear that the digging isn’t random; the Warden is looking for something.

Holes is one of my daughter Natalie’s favorite books – one of the few that she has read more than once. She kept trying to convince me to read it aloud to her and the boys, but I was resistant since we’d already seen the movie (a movie which, by the way, follows the plot of the book fairly closely). I gave in, though, and I am so glad I did! As much as we enjoyed the movie, the book is truly a classic of children’s fiction. Josiah, my nine-year-old, is usually the least vocal about our read-aloud books, but he told me more than once, “I really like this book, Mom.”

As we read the story of Stanley and the Yelnats curse, we also learned the history of Camp Green Lake and why it dried up, as well as the reason the Warden is digging up the lake bed. In spite of the injustice Stanley suffers at Green Lake, he changes in ways he never could have imagined, and also meets Zero, a fellow inmate who has had as bad a run of luck as Stanley has. The two forge a friendship that has astonishing repercussions for both of their futures.

This book is full of things that kids love. There are crazy characters: the Warden, with her rattlesnake venom-infused fingernail polish; Mr. Sir and his sunflower seed habit; Kissin’ Kate Barlowe, the female outlaw who kissed each of her victims; and Madame Zeroni, the woman at the heart of the Yelnats curse. There are fiercely poisonous spotted lizards. There are lots and lots of onions and a mysterious concoction called Sploosh. There is a tragic tale of forbidden love and vengeance, and there is a terrific ending. Holes will go down as one of our favorite read-aloud experiences.

This entry was posted in children's fiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Book Review: Holes by Louis Sachar

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    My kids love the movie, and I’ve been at them for some time now to either get the audio or have me read it to them. I get bad faces from my daughter, who thinks she is too mature for all that, which drives me nuts. I’m going to work on them again. I think it would be fun.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – maybe if you tell her all four of my kids – ages 14 down to 9 – loved it equally? Plus, I did, too, and I’m almost 40. 🙂

  2. irene says:

    I read this with my grade eight group, and they loved it too. Like Sandy my kids thought they were too big for it. Hmm. I may pull it off the shelf just one more time. Thanks for a great review.

  3. Sheila (Bookjourney)
    Twitter: bookjourney

    I adore this book and enjoyed the movie too (love the theme song)

  4. I remember my son reading this and loving it. It sounds like he loves it for good reason.

  5. Mindy Withrow
    Twitter: mindywithrow

    I’ll have to recommend this to my nieces and nephews. Sounds like one they can all enjoy!

  6. Melissa
    Twitter: avidreader12

    This is a fun one. I saw it performed as a play this fall and it wasn’t quite as good.

  7. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    I somehow missed the book and the movie! I’ll have to share it with my young nephews.

  8. Kathleen says:

    I love this book and the movie is really good too!

  9. Fizzy says:

    This book was very entertaining and was a great read. I was impressed by the way Stanley

    went after Zero, when Zero left the camp. This really showed the bond they had developed

    and how close they had become. I was amazed by how the author was able to tie the pasts

    of both of Stanley and Zero, and make a remarkable finish. Overall, this was a great book,

    and I recommend it to everyone.

  10. Pingback: The Sunday Salon – March 6, 2011 (the “February reading wrap-up and challenge update” edition) | BOOKS AND MOVIES

  11. Pingback: First lines of 2011 | BOOKS AND MOVIES

  12. Pingback: Louis Sachar – Holes « Fyrefly's Book Blog