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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What's the story?
Stanley Yelnats, falsely convicted of stealing a celebrity's sneakers, is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention center in the middle of the desert, where the inmates are required to dig a large hole every day. Getting to know the other inmates and getting used to the grueling routine is only part of the story, though. There's a mystery behind this strange punishment that is related to a treasure and the supposed curse on Stanley's family dating back to his "dirty-rotten-pig-stealing" great grandfather. The keys to the mystery are scattered among a boy named Zero, a warden with rattlesnake venom nail polish, and a boat that is named after an onion-eating mule and sits in the middle of a dry lake bed.
Is it any good?
Louis Sachar's HOLES jumps around in time and place as he weaves his intricate tapestry of intersecting stories. An old Egyptian wise woman whose curse resounds down the generations, a schoolmarm whose love for a black man destroys both their lives, a boy abandoned by his mother at a playground, a girl consumed with anger and greed as she watches the downfall of her family -- when all these disparate stories finally come ringing into their places, it's like hearing the perfect orchestral chord.
Sachar pulls together this complicated story with unusual characters, dark humor, inventive plotting, and some Dickensian coincidences. The harshness of the situation is mitigated by the multifaceted mystery and by the strangely lighthearted way the author tells the story. At the end the author deliberately leaves a few holes in the plot for the reader to fill in. Sachar has a bizarre imagination, and in this vivid, many-layered book he puts it to its most compelling use yet.