Stanley Yelnats. This is the name of the boy who was sent to Camp Green Lake, a detention center for delinquent children, for a crime he didn’t commit. And he blames his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather for it. At Camp Green Lake, the detainees including Stanley were to dig holes day after day, five feet wide and five feet deep. Will digging these holes help build character or is there something the warden is looking for?
There are three things I love the most about this book.
First. Holes is a story within a story within a story. There are three main stories– about Elya and the gypsy, Kissin’ Kate Barlow, and Stanley Yelnats – and I love how these three stories come together in the end. Although there are three stories in all, there is no confusion about the characters and the profundity of each is not lost because of the humorous and easy way the tale is told.
Second. The palindrome. It is a word, phrase, or sequence of numbers or units that reads the same, forward and backward. From the first instance I saw the name Stanley Yelnats, I was already piqued. What a clever way to name a character, right? But I think Louis Sachar has a deeper reason why he chose to use a palindrome for the name of his main character. As I have said, Holes may be short but it is profound.
Third. The characters. Including the wicked warden. And the seemingly stupid Zero. I love them all because they are characters whom one can easily relate with. And those scary yellow lizards. Mr. Sachar has definitely succeeded in terrifying me about these creatures. Most of all, I love how Stanley Yelnats IV has grown to love himself through the difficult circumstances he has to face.
Fourth. There are no wasted moments in this book. Every action, every line, every event, all has something to do with the story. Sam, the Negro, who sells onions, has a part in the story. The bag of onions has a part in the story. The canteen of water has a part in the story. Okay, I made my point.
Oops. Did I not say that there are three things I love about the book? But I can’t help mentioning one more. I should have just said that I love this book. Period.
Holes is a coming-of-age story and deals with issues on identity, belongingness, friendship, and courage. It is very easy to read, I finished it one lazy weekend and though I bought this book on a whim (nothing new there, really, since most of my books have been bought on a whim), I am glad I followed my compulsion. Holes is replete with moral lessons everyone of all ages can easily learn from.
The Newbery Medal in 1999 for this book is well-deserved. Are there any more books by Louis Sachar? I’ll definitely be on the lookout.
5/50 2012 Goodreads Reading Goal.