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Stanley Yelnats' family has a history of bad luck going back generations, so he is not too surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to Camp Green Lake Juvenile Detention Centre. Nor is he very surprised when he is told that his daily labour at the camp is to dig a hole, five foot wide by five foot deep, and report anything that he finds in that hole. The warden claims that it is character building, but this is a lie and Stanley must dig up the truth. In this wonderfully inventive, compelling novel that is both serious and funny, Louis Sachar has created a masterpiece that will leave all readers amazed and delighted by the author's narrative flair and brilliantly handled plot.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780747544593
ISBN-10: 074754459X
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 17mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publish Date: 2-Oct-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » This is essentially a story about the finer emotions in life flourishing in the most bleak of environments: a tale of friendship in adversity, of kindness over cruelty, of debts of honour paid in full. Stanley Yelnats suffers a miscarriage of justice and is sent to a boys' juvenile detention centre where he and the other boys must dig a hole five feet deep and five feet across in the dried-up lake bed, every single day. Escape is not possible as there is no water outside the camp's electric fence for miles and miles. Within the boundaries it is survival of the fittest. The barren and desolate camp is run by a sadistic warden who claims that they are digging to build character, but a chance find one day makes Stanley realize that this is not the truth. Stanley's family has been dogged by bad luck ever since his great-great-grandfather arrived in America, but when Stanley helps fellow inmate Zero learn to read he unwittingly sets in motion again the wheels of destiny which had ground to a halt over a broken promise. Holes is beautifully written. Sachar's clear and simple style belies a tightly constructed mystery spanning four generations; the story flips from the past to the present with great skill. The menacing atmosphere and the feelings of hopelessness are tangible and will stay with the reader for a long time. This is a classic. It should be a set text for schoolchildren aged 13 and upwards and adults needs to catch up too. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.). Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories - but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles. Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Louis Sachar

Louis Sachar is the author of several popular novels for children - all published in the USA. He lives in Austin, Texas. This is the first of his books published in the UK.

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