Holes, by Louis Sachar, is Like a Puzzle

Holes is a must-read for those who like putting together small pieces to see a larger picture.

Holes is a must-read for those who like putting together small pieces to see a larger picture.

Fiona O., Staff Writer

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You could ask Stanley Yelnats several things: Why doesn’t your dad’s invention work? Why does it always have to be you who is picked on at school because of your weight? Why have you been arrested and sent to Camp Green Lake for something that you didn’t do? Stanley would definitely answer, “Because of my no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!” But if you asked him why they are digging holes in the middle of a dried-up-lake, what is the cruel Warden trying to find, or what are you going to do after one of the boys, and your newfound friend, runs off into the desert? Those are the question he wouldn’t be able to answer.

Stanley Yelnats lives with his father and his mother. His family have been threatened to be evicted from the house they rent because of the stench from Mr.Yelnats attempting to recycle old sneakers. Meanwhile, Stanley is bullied at school because he is overweight. One day, he is accused of stealing a pair of historic athletic shoes. He is convicted and sent to a labor camp, called Camp Green Lake. Stanley meets a group of tough, misfit kids with odd nicknames and they are all being forced to dig one hole every day. For once, Stanley feels included and accepted. He meets a kid named Zero, whose nickname seems to match his intelligence. Stanley begins to teach Zero to read and write and is surprised to see what a quick learner Zero is. But then Zero runs into the desert, where there’s no water for miles around, so Zero can’t possibly survive. What is Stanley supposed to do? Run into the desert after Zero, of course!

There’s a host of interesting characters in this book. There’s the Warden, the head of the camp. She is cruel because when she was angry at Mr. Sir, a camp assistant, she scraped her nail across his cheek. Her nail was coated in rattlesnake poison.

Then, you have Mr. Sir, who would be better suited as a military general than a camp assistant. He has a terrible disposition and chews sunflower seeds to stop himself from smoking, seeing as he quit. He also has the habit of saying, “You’re not in the Girl Scouts anymore.”

Another camp assistant, Mr. Pendanski, is noticeably nicer. He seems to really care about the boys. He calls them by their real names, not their nicknames, to prepare them for society. He is fondly called “Mom” by the kids at camp.

Then there are the kids at the camp. The author introduces us to Squid, X-Ray, Magnet, Armpit, and Zigzag. There are definitely several other groups of kids at the camp, but we only meet the ones in the same tent as Stanley. The kids are evidently tough kids, the type you’d see as the cool kids at school. But they accept Stanley, probably because of how they think he got there, stealing Clyde Livingston’s shoes. Most of them have tempers that can flare up when Stanley annoys them.

I loved this book. It is like a puzzle; you are given the pieces, but you need to put them together yourself. Or, as the book puts it, “You will have to fill in the holes yourself.” It was excellently written and shows clear character development. Stanley began as a sort of wimp. He let himself be pushed around by bullies at his school. He was out-of-shape. But by the end, he is more fit and has learned to be tough and stand up for himself.

I also enjoyed how the author had two stories going at once. While he was mainly telling us about what’s happening with Stanley, he is also telling a parallel side story about Katherine Barlow. She is a schoolteacher in the 1800s who falls in love with an African American named Sam. They love each other and kiss in the rain one day. But they are spotted by an old lady. Word spreads, and Sam is to be hanged. Meanwhile, the snotty rich kid who’s had his eyes on Kate, burns down her school house, her pride and joy. What is she to do?

I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a book that makes you think beyond all the separate pieces of information, so that you can see the whole picture. Enjoy and keep on reading books!

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