Reviewed by Julie M. Prince for TeensReadToo.com
HOLES was first released over a decade ago, so I have no excuse for not joining the masses in reading it before now. But, I kept telling myself, it's about boys digging holes. What's interesting about that?
So years passed.
When the anniversary edition, complete with its Newbery-medal-bearing jacket, caught my eye, I decided it was time to see what all the hype was about. After all, clearly the book was good enough to be made into a movie starring some of my favorite actors (Jon Voigt, Henry Winkler, Sigourney Weaver, and a young Shia LaBeouf), so it had to be good, right?
Thankfully, this (admittedly flawed) line of reasoning didn't fail me. The book met and exceeded my expectations.
A weak but loveable main character named Stanley Yelnats (a clever anagram, no?) leads readers through the main plot. The story is about an adolescent boy sent to a reform camp, where he must dig one grave-sized hole each day as punishment for a crime we're led to believe he did not commit.
As I suspected, this plot is no fun. But don't let that fool you! The book itself is chalk full of fun...and it doesn't take long for it to enter the story.
A master at suspending disbelief, Sachar weaves together several storylines as he takes us back through Yelnats family history and ties it to the history of Kissin' Kate Barlow, one of the most notorious outlaws in the West. Without revealing too much, and yet dropping enough clues for readers to piece the puzzle together as they go, Sachar unveils each story as a stand-alone piece while keeping firm footing in the main story.
One character after another dances through the book and wins over readers with a sympathetic story of his or her own. Luckily, Sachar makes it easy to fall in love with even the most backward-seeming character. No one's life is easy and everyone wants his or her story told.
Amazingly, this is accomplished in one reasonably short, action-packed book that more than earned every award piled upon it.
I highly recommend picking this one up anytime!