Louis Sachar is an American author whose rise to fame was solely based on his 1998 young-adult novel Holes. Winner of multiple awards including the 1998 U.S. National Book Award for Young People’s Literature as well as the 1999 Newbery Medal, the book has carved out a permanent place for itself in the genres of children’s literature and adventure. Ranked number six among the all-time children’s novels in a School Library Journal survey, the book was both a critical as well as a commercial success. It has also been adapted into a Disney movie that garnered positive reviews.


“If only, if only,” the woodpecker sighs,
“The bark on the tree was as soft as the skies.”
While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely,
Crying to the moo-oo-oon,
“If only, If only.” 

The story centers around a young and unlucky Stanley Yelnats. With misfortune trailing his steps wherever he goes, Stanley finds himself falsely accused of stealing a celebrity baseball player’s athletic shoes that lands him in the juvenile correctional facility called Camp Green Lake, which is actually situated in the middle of a desert. There he has to dig holes, apparently to build character, along with all the other juvenile delinquents that have been forced to do the same.

If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.

That was what some people thought.

Sachar has created a rich and well-written plot line that engages the reader with an original approach to a much-explored genre of children’s adventure. A story that begins with a tinge of misfortune, journeys ahead into a string of opportune coincidences that carry forward the plot to some immensely interesting events.

The author has spun a brilliant web of stories wherein every string is intricately tied to each other through elements of fairy-tale themes as well as magical realism. A family curse, a world-renowned outlaw and a witch’s grandson are a few of the mystical components of the story that are all tied together by the author’s literary brilliance. The story reads like a well-crafted jigsaw puzzle of which the reader finds pieces to fit along the way, and, once the whole picture is complete, one is left with a long-lasting feeling of satisfaction.

A lot of people don’t believe in curses.

A lot of people don’t believe in yellow-spotted lizards either, but if one bites you, it doesn’t make a difference whether you believe in it or not.

The narration from Stanley’s point of view never fails to keep the tone easygoing, even amid the darker themes of child labor and the insecurities of an inhumane and hand-to-mouth existence. Stanley learns to deal with the frequent curve-balls life keeps throwing his way with a wry sense of humor and kindness.

The author has excelled at creating a wide and deep pool of multi-hued figures whose character arcs have all been thoroughly explored and developed to elevate the level and quality of the story. In fact, the connections he has established among the characters may even make the reader gasp at the author’s genius for narrating the story so exquisitely.

“When you spend your whole life living in a hole,” he said, “the only way you can go is up.” 

Many skillfully-written pieces of literature leave spaces in narration that the reader can fill with their own interpretations. The author has employed this particular technique expertly to add a rather delectable icing on the cake.

Ameya Rating:

All in all a brilliant read for children and adults alike, Holes deserves 4 stars out of 5 for its splendid story-telling, impeccable character arcs and coruscating intricacies of its plot line. For anyone who is looking for a book that won’t let them keep it down before reaching the last page, this is definitely it.

…now that you’re here

As you might know, Ameya runs on a purely non-profit basis. With no tangible products on offer, advertisements and donations are our only two sources of keeping this blog up and running. You could convey your support to us with something as little as $5 - that's less than what an average Starbucks would cost!