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HOLES, by Wayside School books author Louis Sachar, is a hilarious, frightening and clever novel that will shock and surprise you. It received the 1999 Newbery Medal, the Boston Globe Horn Book Award, and the 1998 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, so you know it's a winner.

Protagonist Stanley Yelnats, has really bad luck --- after being falsely accused of stealing sneakers he is sent to a boy's juvenile detention center called Camp Green Lake. First of all, this is no camp, and second of all, there is NO lake --- nothing green has ever grown there. The work is the worst --- each day it is the same thing: dig a hole five feet by five feet, the length and depth of your shovel. Do not stop until you're finished. And do not even think about running away --- there's nothing around for miles, so you can't possibly escape.

One last rule --- do not upset the warden. She does really nasty things with snake venom when she's mad. She thinks that digging holes builds character --- at least that's what she says, but Stanley and the other boys have different ideas. Something fishy is going on at Camp Green Lake, and Stanley has to find out what it is.

You can't help but get sucked into this inventive and compelling novel --- it is at once extremely serious and outrageously funny. Sachar weaves a complex story that twists and turns as it becomes clear that fate has been at work in the lives of the characters all along. Let's just hope that fate is on Stanley's side!

Reviewed by Dana Schwartz on August 20, 1998

by Louis Sachar

  • Publication Date: June 26, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
  • ISBN-10: 0374312648
  • ISBN-13: 9780374312640