Mid-grade book review: Holes

Title: Holes
Author: Louis Sachar
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 4/5

This is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read forever, and I’m glad I did. It’s a fun book, cleverly written, with an offbeat and playful feel. The story begins with Stanley Yelnats’ arrival at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention centre in the middle of the Texas wilderness. He’s innocent, but the absurd events that led to his arrest ensure that no one believes him.

Camp Green Lake is supposed to build character by requiring the boys to dig holes in the dry lake bed – one large hole every day – and to report anything interesting they find. But the Warden seems very interested in everything they dig up, and Stanley begins to suspect that his hard labour has less to do with reforming his character, and more to do with finding something the Warden is searching for.

Stanley’s story is told alongside the story of his great-great-grandfather, and the stories of the people who used to live in the vanished town of Green Lake. It’s the details that make the book so much fun to read, and so clever. Some of the historical stories feel like unnecessary, whimsical asides at the start of the book, but as Stanley’s adventure develops, everything starts to drop into place. By the final pages, the reader is left with the wonderful feeling of fitting the last pieces into a jigsaw puzzle, and suddenly seeing the full picture.

It’s a beautiful puzzle of a book, with plenty of tiny moving parts that come together beautifully at the end. It mixes absurdity with engaging, well-drawn characters, a playful style, and a gorgeously detailed plot to create a wonderful reading experience. Very, very well done.

Have you read Holes? What did you think of the story? Did you spot all the connections between the characters? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

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