You really get three stories for the price of one with this book, but the main theme is how young Stanley Yelnats IV comes to redeem the curse which was visited upon his great-great-grandfather and all the Yelnats family, through the generations, by Madame Zeroni.
Here is the first thread of this story. Four generations ago, in Latvia, the young Elya Yelnats fell in love with the beautiful but stupid Myra Menke. He sought the help of ancient Madame Zeroni to win Myra's hand in marriage. In return for Madame Zeroni's help, Elya promised to carry her up the mountain to drink from a special spring one more time before she died. Unfortunately for Elya, the courtship went wrong and in a fit of despair he boarded a ship bound for America to begin a new life before he had fulfilled his promise to Madame Zeroni. Things never went right for long after that. Settled in America, Elya had one son who succeeded in making a fortune, but he lost it all when he was robbed by Kissin' Kate Barlow, the famous outlaw.
So, when we meet Stanley Yelnats IV, he is on his way to a boys' juvenile detention centre for a crime which he did not commit. The family curse has struck again! The second thread of this story takes place at Camp Green Lake. What can Stanley make of life in a juvenile detention centre? Stanley is rather a gentle type himself, overweight, reconciled to failure and being bullied at school.
'You are to dig one hole each day, including Saturdays and Sundays. Each hole must be five feet deep, and five feet across in every direction. Your shovel is your measuring stick. Breakfast is served at 4.30.'
Stanley must have looked surprised, because Mr. Sir went onto explain that they started early to avoid the hottest part of the day. 'No one is going to baby-sit you,' he added. 'The longer it takes you to dig, the longer you will be out in the sun. If you dig up anything interesting, you are to report it to me or any other counselor. When you finish, the rest of the day is yours.'
Stanley nodded to show he understood.
'This isn't a Girl Scout camp,' said Mr. sir.
It certainly isn't a Girl Scout camp. And it isn't a green lake either. The lake dried up years and years ago:
'Nobody runs away from here. We don't need a fence. Know why? Because we've got the only water for a hundred miles. You want to run away? You'll be buzzard food in three days.'
So Stanley gets on with it. He learns how to dig his holes. He keeps his mouth shut. He tries not to antagonize anyone. He even forms a tentative friendship with one of them, Zero.
And here comes the third strand of this story. Who was Kissin' Kate Barlow? How did she come to be such a fearsome outlaw? What happened to her, and her ill-gotten fortune? At Camp Green Lake, there are hundreds of holes dug, apparently at random, across the dried-up lake bed. The Warden claims the labour is character building. Stanley thinks the Warden must be looking for something. Slowly, ideas come to Stanley, after he finds a strange cylinder in the earth, engraved with the initials KB. The Warden is frantic to unearth more, and Stanley is also quite interested - wasn't his own great-grandfather robbed of his fortune by Kissin' Kate Barlow?
This is an intricate story. There are a lot of characters spread across the generations. Their paths cross and re-cross brilliantly. And who should end up at Camp Green Lake with Stanley, but Zero, real name Hector Zeroni, great-great-great-grandson of Madame Zeroni. Perhaps Stanley can render some service to Hector which will redeem the ancient curse of the Yelnats family? Read on ...
I think you will really enjoy this book. It's an adventure and a mystery, with moments of high suspense, all neatly tied-off with a happy ending.
Padraig, boy, age 14, from Monaghan, Ireland, on 23rd March 2009. Rating: 8/10
Holes Review This is the review of the novel “Holes”. It is an adventure story packed with strange flashbacks, sudden twists and peculiar twists. Louis Sachar portrays the life of an ordinary boy whose life was mysteriously turned around. The novel shows how one boy adapts into the strangest environment. How he makes friends, and loses them. How he achieved so much, with such little hope. But most of all how he stood up for what he believed in. It is overall an interesting novel. Although I took deductions from the marks out of ten because it was not as exciting or action packed at the beginning of the novel. But when it really started to get interesting, the excitement never ended. Whether it was a near death experience or weird mirages, it really was action packed! (I award it eight out of ten) I recommend this novel to both boys and girls between the ages of seven to fifteen who are looking for an original, action packed novel. Also if they can stick with a novel, this is what you are looking for.
Fergal, boy, age 14, from Monaghan, Ireland, on 23rd March 2009. Rating: 8/10
Review “Holes” is a fictional novel written by Louis Sachar. It is set in a desert in the middle of Texas. The story is about a teenager called Stanley Yelnats. Stanley is from a very unlucky family and it has been cursed for generations. In the story Stanley ends up going to Camp Green Lake. He has to dig a hole five feet long and five feet deep every single day. As the novel goes on Louis makes it more open. Louis uses flashbacks to bring back the history of Camp Green Lake. During the novel the flashbacks are mainly based on Kate Barlow. It tells the history of her life and why her character changed dramatically. The main reason Louis Sachar used flashbacks to make the book more interesting as the middle part of the novel just dragged on. I would recommend this novel to the ages ten years to fifteen years. I wouldn’t recommend it to any younger ages as it is hard to follow and flashbacks make it extremely harder to follow. I would give this book eight out of ten. I only gave it eight because it is very boring and extremely hard to follow.
Cormac, boy, age 13, from Co.Monaghan, Ireland, on 23rd March 2009. Rating: 9/10
Holes book reveiw The book that I am writing this review on is called ‘Holes’. The author of the novel is named Louis Sachar. The setting of the book is in a place called ‘Camp Green Lake’ in Texas. The main character of this novel is named Stanley Yelnats. Stanley is a very caring and willing person. The other characters names are Zero, X-ray, Squid, Zig-Zag, Magnet, Armpit, Mr. Sir, the Warden and Mr. Pendanski. When Stanley is at ‘Camp Green Lake’ he gets flashback’s of his ancestors. Camp Green Lake is like a juvenile detention camp with no lake. The chapters in this book are very short. This novel is not a very predictable book like others. It is like the book is made of superglue because once you start reading you can’t put the book down. When you finish reading the novel it is like you just want to go back to the start of the book again and read it all over again. I would describe this novel as a very unpredictable and interesting novel. I felt like there was part in this novel which was repeated. I would recommend this novel to the ages of ten to fifteen year olds. I would recommend this novel to children who like an unpredictable and a very interesting book. I would also rate this book as a nine out of ten.
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Actually, Holes isn't an easy book to follow. It's a very subtle blend of real life with a hint of magic. I think you might enjoy this one by Susan Gates:
If you really enjoy the magic, I would recommend David Almond's book:
And if the real life appeals to you more, you might like to look at this one by Michael Morpurgo:
And you might really enjoy this trilogy by William Nicholson. It is set in a completely different world: