Admittedly, I am not a re-reader, so when I was issued the challenge to re-read a childhood/ middle school novel and ascertain if it could still be considered a favorite, there were only two books which came to mind as “worthy” candidates, one of them being Holes by Louis Sachar, winner of many literary awards, including, but not limited to the Newbery Medal (1999). Holes first came to my attention in sixth grade when my teacher selected it as a book to be read aloud in class over the next month. I was not crazy about my teacher’s latest pick, first of all because it couldn’t possibly be as good as any Sharon Creech novels (This was my crazy for Creech period.) and because I’m a girl and this was a “boy” book. However, Mrs. Bryan was a wise teacher when it came to her class “read aloud books”; she knew how to choose books that the whole class (all 20-ish or so) seemed to enjoy, and so the students were introduced to Stanley Yelnats and Camp Green Lake.
As I came to find out, Holes is infinitely more than just a “boy” book. Sachar’s knack for interlacing past with present is pure talent in its congruency. Written with an originality of emotional substance that you can’t help but “feel”, readers will find it difficult not to become emotionally invested in main character Stanley’s plight and the injustice of his incarceration (all because of that nasty curse brought on by his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather!) Stanley is not the only character that readers will become attached to, thus creating a sublimely elaborate story riddled with past and present accounts, giving readers just the right amount of clues to come to their own realization of what’s to come, proving that fates intertwinement is more than just destiny.
Holes is a great read and re-read whether you’re a sixth grader or in your sixties, but especially for those looking for a staple to add to their book shelf and share with future generations. My hope and prediction is that this novel will become one of your favorites that you just can’t forget.
Young readers who enjoyed the familial side of Holes may enjoy Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. Readers who are looking for more than just another “boy” novel should check out Jordan Sonnenblick’s Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie.
Profanity/Language: 4 religious exclamations; 1 mild obscenity.
Violence/Gore: Few brief mentions of a thieving murderer; brief scene in which character imagines another character being beaten up (humorous in nature); character hurts another character with a sharp object, some blood mentioned; character is accidentally knocked unconscious, blood mentioned; character threatens another character with bodily harm; extended scene about 1 page, character slaps character, and threatens another with poison; adult character is rough with a teen character; extended scene about 2 pages mob ensues violent behavior and destruction of property because of racial bias resulting in the death of two characters, and an animal; character threatens another character with a gun; character hits another character with an object and threatens character; extended scene about 2 pages in which 2 characters inflict minor injuries one another character, mention of character dying due to poison; extended scene about 1 page multiple characters engage in minor physical violence with one another; character hits another character with an object knocking them out; brief scene, vehicular accident, no injuries mentioned; comment of character’s hands bleeding due to an injury.
Sex/Nudity: Brief scene in which character removes clothing so his/her persons may be searched; two adult characters kiss briefly.
Mature Subject Matter:
Juvenile delinquency, stealing/thieving, murdering, children as well as adults engage in physical and verbal bullying.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
A few mentions of a character quitting smoking; one brief mention of character being drunk.