People make a lot of assumptions in life. For example, it's easy
for most folks
to assume that a fat kid is lazy or that he is a bully, that a small
kid is timid and smart. Stanley Yelnats is fat, but he's no
dummy and he's no bully. He is, however, the victim of a very
small bullying child nearly every day he attends school. And one
day, as he is walking beneath an overpass, a pair of sneakers
literally fall upon
his head and cause him to be a victim of the judicial system as well.
Since his father always needs another set of
stinky shoes for his foot deodorizer experiments, Stanley is excited
to have a prime pair to give to him. Racing off with the shoes,
the police see him running and assume he is up to no good. Sure
enough, the sneakers he is carrying have been reported as stolen.
They are famous footwear belonging to one Clyde "Sweet Feet"
pro baseball player and Stanley's hero.
Truly, it's not Stanley's fault that he is sentenced to attend a
juvenile delinquents hard labor camp. According to his family
it's all because of his no good, dirty, rotten, pig stealing great
great grandfather whose family, had he done
what a gypsy woman once directed him to do, never
would have been so cursed.
While at camp Stanley has
to get along with some truly rough bullies, and he has to dig a 5 x 5
hole every day in the baking hot sun while avoiding poisonous lizards,
snakes, spiders, and the cruel camp staff. But for all the
faculty talk that digging holes builds character, there's a distinct
undercurrent that something else is going on. The warden is
looking for something out there in the desert, something clearly
And maybe, just maybe, if
Stanley is the one to find it, it will be his ticket out of there.
This well-balanced story deftly interweaves threads from the Yelnats family's past and
present to keep the reader entranced and guessing. And if that
isn't enough, the characters are very sympathetic; the reader
would stick with the book just to find out how things turned out
for them. (And to find out how the bad guys got theirs in the end.)
For me as a writer, "Holes" comes under the "I wish I had written that!" heading.
Size-wise Stanley was heavy and out of shape at the beginning of the
story, but hard labor and minimal food trimmed him down and toughened
him up a bit.
Highly recommended to readers of all ages!
If you liked
"Holes" you might also enjoy "Saviors
of the Bugle".
Note: this book has been made into a
The cinematography, setting, and casting were all terrific in this
novel-turned-film. However, the characters and story understandably
suffered from being cut down into feature film length. The main
character is no longer fat, and indeed we do not know about his being
picked on at school either.
But despite trimming out a great deal of the novel and adding in a few
new pieces, it still is a terrific story and transferred very well to
visual format. Our boys loved it, but reading the book first
definitely helped to flesh things out. I suggest you do the same.