If you’re looking for an easy read thenÂ Holes byÂ Louis SacharÂ is for you. It’s a children’s book as it’s simply written with a straightforward, easy to follow plot.Â
- A boy called Stanley Yelnats is sent to a detention centre for a crime he did not commit
- He and his family blame the bad luck in their family because of a curse put on his great-great grandfather
- At the detention centre him and other guys are digging holes
- He makes friends and slowly deciphers the reason behind digging is that the Warden is looking for something
- The digging and his curse are intertwined and the book gives us parts of the story throughout
- Stanley’s great-great grandfather loved a girl and has sought a pig to present to her father, who would allow the man with the biggest pig to marry her
- Madame Zeroni gave him a pig he could nurture to grow large as long as he promised to take her up the mountain and sing a song she taught him
- Stanley’s great-great grandfather realises he no longer loves the girl and forgets his promise
- He journeys to America and believes he is now cursed because he didn’t fulfil his promise
- We then find out about the history of the lake where Stanley is digging holes.
- Hundred and ten years prior, the town is nothing like the desert that it is now. Instead, it’s full of life and blooming.
- A white schoolteacher and black onion seller partake in a kiss, which the racist town-folk are unhappy about.
- The black man is killed by the Sheriff, who the schoolteacher sought help from but he is overtaken by jealousy.
- The lovers try to escape the town by boat, but the onion seller is killed after which the rain never falls on the town again, making it the desert that it is now.
- Taken by grief, the schoolteacher becomes an outlaw. As she had robbed many people, one of them was Stanley’s great-grandfather. She had hidden the treasure, which has never been found.
- Back at the juvenile centre where the town is deserted due to the lack of rain, Stanley digs as he is told and finds a lipstick tube with the initials of the schoolteacher. The information is passed on to the Warden who’s clearly interested in what Stanley has found.
- Stanley makes friends with a boy named Zero (the descendant of Â Madame Zeroni – although Stanley does not know this yet) who runs away
- Stanley believes Zero’s life is in danger, goes after him a few days later. Finding him, Stanley helps Zero up a mountain where they find lots of onions (that seems to be the black onion seller’s garden) he sings to him as he does so
- They soon decide to continue searching further in the hole where Stanley found the lipstick tubeÂ rather than live helpless in the desert
- In the hole they find the treasure on which is Stanley Yelnats is written (as all the men in his family were called for generations, including his great-grandfather)
- The Warden tried to take it off him but Stanley plainly shows that his name is written on it so it his after all. Just in time, Stanley’s lawyer arrives to tell him that he is innocent and to go home, taking him and his treasure back to his family.
- The treasure has many riches and the family’s curse is lifted.
- Stanley, Zero and their families have much better fortunes hence.
For generations the men of Stanley Yelnats were called exactly that and for a good reason too. For, after all, Stanley could not have claimed the treasure if his name was not written on it. Yelnats is Stanley spelt backwards and in my opinion provides a number of insights into the story. Firstly, the simple nature of the teen book and it’s straightforward manner. Also, the fact that it’s the opposites – per say. So the cursed become the fortunate, the bad get what they deserve and Stanley himself becomes a better individual as the book ends – becoming physically fitter. Â All in all, a happy ending that’s desired.
Why call the book Holes? Well apart from the obvious, where Stanley dug holes in the juvenile centre with the other boys looking for treasure, holes could mean more than just in the literal sense. Stanley’s family ‘hole’ can be seen as their misfortune (or curse) which needed to be filled and put right, which was lifted by Stanley’s act of helping Zero up the mountain. It could even be seen as the ‘hole’ that many of the characters were trying to fill in their lives, such as The Warden looking for the prize or Zero gaining literacy skills and even a life-long friend. Most importantly however a hole is round – a continuous circle – exactly what the book portrays through the generations that had to make that loop and go back to the first promise that was made and put it right. I believeÂ Holes presents us with a hole-like cycle of a curse.
Although simple and can be finished quickly, I recommend this book for children and adults alike. It’s a fun and heart-warming story that’s sure to grasp your attention. Have a go at puzzling out the hints that the author feeds you. Have you read it yet? Tell me what you think.