Holes (novel) by Louis Sachar

Holes author Louis Sachar captivated a generation of nineties young adult readers with the story of Stanley Yelnats and the mysterious Camp Green Lake. The iconic blue and red cover captured the weird and humorous nature of this best-selling novel, which was later adapted as a feature film by Walt Disney Pictures and starred Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette, and a young Shia LaBeouf. 

Holes centers around the character of Stanley who is sent to a juvenile detention facility in the punishing Texas desert. Surrounded by miles of desert, Camp Green Lake is a misnomer of the highest proportion. At the camp, Stanley and the rest of his fellow detainees are required by the Warden to dig one hole a day, five feet wide and five feet deep, in the arid bed of a long dried up lake. Not too much time passes before Stanley figures out that he and his fellow inmates must actually be looking for something valuable that has gotten lost out in the desert. Mysterious outlaws from the past, venomous snakes, buried treasure, and “Sploosh” combine to animate the pages of this book to memorable heights for readers of all ages. 

Capturing the short attention spans of nineties adolescents was a difficult thing to do when you were competing against Tamagotchis and N64. While Holes incorporated numerous Old West themes, it addressed them in a relevant and socially conscious way. The symbolism of digging holes and finding forgotten things in the American desert wasn’t lost on public school teachers, who applauded the way that Sachar engaged young readers on timely and sensitive themes. Holes was also praised by literary critics for its depictions of adolescents and the way it tackled thorny topics such as incarcerated juveniles and racism. Holes was honored with the 1998 National Book Award for young people’s literature as well as a Newbery Medal. School Library Journal ranked Holes at #6 book on their list of the top 100 children’s novels in 2012.

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