Book Review: Holes

‘You have only one life, make the most of it…’

Holes: Louis Sachar : Sachar, Louis: Books

As an English teacher, Louis Sachar’s timeless classic Holes has always been just outside of my peripheral vision despite the fact I’ve never read it (until now). Daunting piles of tattered copies of Holes lurk in classroom cupboards. Old schemes of work linger in long forgotten folders on Google Drive. So, almost on impulse, one day I grabbed one of those old copies from the shelf and took it home to read. Something that I uncharacteristically did over two days, such was my affection for this simple story…

Stanley Yelnat has always been unlucky. Not least when he is wrongly accused of stealing some sports memorabilia and is subsequently sent to a young offenders institute where he is forced to dig holes every day by the sadistic warden. At Camp Green Lake, the institute that is neither a ‘camp’ or a ‘lake’, Stanley meets a rotating cast of cruel guards and similarly troubled young boys, all against the back drop of buried treasure and an ancient curse. We are in the realm of The Goonies here. Or Stand By Me. A classic bildungsroman.

Being fairly short and mostly gripping, Holes is one of those books that everyone should read, really. I can’t imagine someone reaching the neat conclusion and feeling unsatisfied with what they have read. Sure, it draws upon common coming of age tropes and stock characters, but the triple narrative ensures that Holes is never too straightforward, and it must not be forgotten that this is supposed to be a book for children, after all.

I loved Holes and when judged purely as a comfort read, it’s up there with anything by JK Rowling or Michael Morpurgo. A success!

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