I'm so glad to have finally read this rather extraordinary book. Holes won the Newbery Medal in 1999 and if you even casually glance at pretty much any list of kids books Holes will be somewhere up near the top- lists like the 50 Best Books for Kids or SLJs Top 100 Children's Novel List, or even What Kiwi Kids Read. Of course it is one of my 1001 books too.
It's an extremely improbable story. Teenager Stanley Yelnats is overweight and unpopular at school, after he is convicted of stealing a pair of shoes he is sent to a work camp in Texas for reform.
Stanley was not a bad kid. He was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. He'd just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We know that Stanley is a good kid, and feel for him from the start.
It occurred to him that he couldn't remember the last time he felt happiness. It wasn't just being sent to Camp Green Lake that he made his life miserable. Before that he'd been unhappy at school, where he had no friends, and bullies like Derrick Dunne picked on him. No one liked him, and the truth was, he didn't especially like himself.
An original, highly bizarre story, Holes is a very enjoyable read. I read it in just a few days. I like quirky books as a rule, but this is beyond quirky, it's downright odd. I would never have thought that onions, holes, yellow-spotted lizards, racial tensions past and present, smelly feet and a group of juvenile delinquents would make for a good story- but they certainly do. At least in Louis Sachar's hands. I hope to read more of his books.