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Holes by Louis Sachar

Updated on February 21, 2015
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Rosie is a library media specialist. An avid reader and life-long learner, Rosie enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise in many areas.



The young adult novel, Holes, is an interesting read for youth as well as adults. This book was written by Louis Sachar. It is a fictional story that the author skillfully makes very believable as you are reading it. The author has done a wonderful job of creating rich character development and pulls you right into the book almost immediately upon opening it. The book is about a boy named Stanley who is falsely accused of stealing a pair of tennis shoes from a homeless shelter, donated by a famous baseball player. Stanley is sent to "Camp Greenlake," which is actually a place for teenagers who have committed crimes. For punishment, the boys are made to dig holes out in the blazing sun every day, claiming it builds character.

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The two main characters in the book are Stanley and Zero. Stanley is a thoughtful teenage boy who cares about his parents and always tries to do the right thing. Stanley has a lot of bad luck and blames this on his no-good, dirty rotten, pig-stealing, great great grandfather. Zero is a quiet teenage boy with no family. He doesn't know how to read but is amazingly good with numbers. The supporting characters are Mr. Pendaski, Mr. Sir, the Warden, and the boys in group D at camp Green Lake. Their names are Zigzag, Armpit, X-ray, Squid, and Twitch.


The setting of Holes is at Camp Green Lake. The opposite of a lake, it is a large area of barren and desolate land with a few run-down buildings and some tents. It is a juvenile correction facility for teenage boys located in Texas. In the distance are huge white stone cliffs that lead to a top part that looks like a fist with a thumb sticking out of it, referred to in the story as "God's Thumb." This story takes place in the present but flashes back to the past when telling about Stanley's great great grandfather as well as some other characters that begin to reveal how the past connects to the present. Many of the events from the past lead to the main events in the story as realizations come to light.


In the beginning of the book, Stanley is wrongly accused of stealing tennis shoes and sent to Camp Green Lake. There he is made to dig holes day after day in the hot sun. One of the boys in his group, Zero, asks him to teach him to read. Zero helps Stanley dig his holes in return. The other boys get mad and a big fight breaks out. Zero ends up hitting Mr. Pendanski with a shovel and running off. Stanley decides to go find Zero, and when he does, they climb "God's Thumb." Together they form a plan of what to do next.

Character Growth

Stanley Yelnats is an interesting character. He changes both physically and emotionally throughout the story. In the beginning he is overweight and gets bullied at school. He feels like he is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. He often blames his bad luck on his no-good, dirty-rotten, pig-stealing, great great grandfather. After being sent to Camp Green Lake, Stanley becomes thinner, does brave things, and begins to feel luckier. He works hard digging holes, stands-up for Zero, and works with Zero to find the treasure he believes the outlaw, Kate Barlow left behind.


I would highly recommend this book to others for several reasons. The story is very suspenseful, going back to the past and tying events into the present. The characters are well-developed and either extremely likeable or on the opposite end of the spectrum, very despised. The whole story is engaging from beginning to end, making the reader anxious to return to it. In addition, the conclusion is very satisfying and leaves the reader with a good feeling. For these reasons, it is a book worth reading again and again.

Quick Facts

  • Holes was published in 1998.
  • Holes sold more than five million copies.
  • It won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 1998.
  • It won the Newberry Medal in 1999.
  • Holes was made into a movie in 2003. The author, Louis Sachar wrote the screenplay.


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    • Rachel Horon profile image

      Rachel Horon 

      5 years ago from Indiana

      Rosie, I love Holes and Louis Sachar. Great review.


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