Stanley Yelnats and his family have a case of bad luck, which they blame on their no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather! It seems the grand-dad didn’t keep a deal with a “Madame” Zeroni, and she rewarded him with a curse. Years later, Stanley has fallen prey to being at the wrong place at the wrong time and gets blamed for a crime he is innocent of. He’s sent to Camp Green Lake correctional facility for juvenile offenders. There, the punishment is hard labor. He and the rest of the boys there must dig a 5×5 foot hole everyday. The supervisors say it’s to build character in the boys, but Stanley suspects they are digging for something. He finds soon enough he’s right.
Holes is the 1999 Newbery award winner, and I can see why it won. It is a great book (especially for boys) – that keeps your attention from the beginning until the very last pages. The author does well with weaving the past of Green Lake and Stanley Yelnats with the present day. He also manages to by the end to tie all the plot threads together. All the characters are memorable, from Stanley and the other boys to Mr. Sir and the nasty warden who paints her finger nails with rattlesnake venom. Stanley serves as a decent role model, trying to do the right thing when faced with multiple challenging predicaments. Be aware: there is some fighting among the boys, bullying, and two of the characters from the past are victims of a hate crime.
Overall, a satisfying read that will entertain even your most finicky readers. We read Holes in our Boy’s book club, and the guys all gave it the thumbs up.
And, this is one case where the movie version is just as good as the book, so read the book, then watch the movie.