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“I’m not going to run away,” Stanley said. “Good thinking, ” said Mr Sir. “Nobody runs away from here. We don’t need a fence. Know why? Because we’ve got the only water for a hundred miles. You want to run away? You’ll be buzzard food in three days.” Stanley could see some kids dressed in orange and carrying shovels dragging themselves towards the tents. “You thirsty?” asked Mr Sir. “Yes, Mr Sir,” Stanley said gratefully. “Well, you better get used to it. You’re going to be thirsty for the next eighteen months.”
If you are looking for a truly remarkable novel, something to get your teeth into, something to make you think, and something to make you feel that you have just touched real class, then look no further than Louis Sachar’s extraordinary, award-winning novel Holes.
Camp Greenlake is a place for bad boys, where the belief is: “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.” When Stanley Yelnats, accused and found guilty of a crime he did not commit, is sent to Camp Greenlake he really doesn’t think it can be so bad. Stanley and his family try to pretend that he is just going away to camp like the rich kids do, and he promises to write to them every day. But the harsh realities of the camp, and the evil Warden with her lizard-venom impregnated fingernails with her own reasons for making the boys in her charge dig so many holes, sometimes make dying seem like a great idea. When Stanley leaves the camp to go in search of his friend Zero, their journey towards freedom becomes a battle with hunger, thirst and heat in the shadow of Big Thumb–a mountain so entwined in Stanley’s own family history that he knows if they can reach it they will somehow find salvation.
A complex story, riddled with the harsh imagery and barren despair, Holes is a perceptive and intricate homage to family and friendship which never shies away from the harshest of realities yet injects the story of a seemingly hopeless boy with a sly, sideways humour that crackles against the backdrop of the arid wastelands of the desert. A must for anyone, young or old, who relishes an intelligent, courageous and dynamic read. (Age 11 and over) —Susan Harrison