Book Review: Holes

Background info

Full Title:  Holes

Author:  Louis Sachar

Publisher and date: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998


Stanley Yelnats is sent to Camp Green Lake to improve his behavior, but all he does there is dig holes five feet deep and five feet around.  After doing this for days on end, Stanley becomes used to this exercise, but he begins to wonder if there’s more of a purpose to digging the holes than the camp counselors are letting on.  While all of this is going on, Stanley meets a mysterious boy named “Zero.”  Zero begins to take a strange interest in Stanley. Stanley learns that Zero cannot read or write.  The two boys slowly forge a friendship, and they both have more impact on each other’s future’s than they ever could have predicted….

Thoughts on style

The book is narrated in third person, and most of it is about Stanley.  However, the author does sprinkle stories from the history of Camp Green Lake.  I originally found this confusing, but the author ties it in at the end of the book nicely.


Stanley is sent to camp when he is found in possession of a pair of shoes stolen from a charity event.  It becomes clear throughout the book that the boys at the camp have almost no respect for the authority around them and will do what it takes to get out of the work they are told to do.  The boys also have a rather strict pecking order, and they tend to push each other around

Appropriate Age/ Content

There is a fair bit of violence in the books.  As aforementioned, the boys are rather rough with another.  Also, when the author references the history of Camp Green Lake, he talks a good deal about a famous outlaw, who murders a numerous people.  The murders are not described in any detail, but it may be disturbing for younger children.  The boys also insult each other fairly frequently, but no vulgar language is used.

Age Recommendation: 11+

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this book, but the plot was not overly developed, and there were brief times at which it seemed to stall.  The narration was creative, and I loved how Sachar tied it all together at the end of the book, but it did slow the book down.  The book on the whole is not overly fast-paced, so I would not suggest it for slower readers.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars



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