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Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Holes Book Poster Image
Humorous and moving story has an edge.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 105 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

There's an edge to this humorous, moving, and sometimes violent story that children really respond to.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Racism, both past and present, is mentioned.


Several characters hit with shovels, a fistfight, and several deaths, including murder. Several life-threatening scenes, especially one where Stanley and Zero and trapped in a hole for hours with poisonous lizards crawling all over them.


A sheriff tries to force a schoolteacher to kiss him.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's an edge to this humorous, moving, and sometimes violent story that children really respond to. Parents may want to talk to their children about the unfairness of Stanley's life, and the cold-hearted viciousness of some of the characters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byaverage mom November 22, 2011

Too dark for younger kids

This book is not terribly difficult reading, but the content really isn't appropriate for young children. It is quite violent and, at times, sadistic. Wh... Continue reading
Parent of a 5 year old Written byk3ndallschmidt September 20, 2010
i didnt like holes it sucked i had to read it for school in 7th grade yuck! i feel asleep
Teen, 13 years old Written byavidcritc April 9, 2008

main story, ok. sub story- whoa

the actual main story is ok, sometimes boring and sometimes really funny (stanley's family blames all their bad luck on a cursed 'no good rotten pig s... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old November 17, 2009

good for people who like mysteries

it is a great book with mysteries and flashbacks

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about belonging.

  • Why is Stanley considered a misfit?

  • Do the people around him view him differently by the end of the book?

  • How does Stanley's opinion of himself change?

Book details

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