Kaye Umansky on an utterly compelling tale peopled with a cast of memorable characters…
It’s rare to find a book that makes you scuttle around telling everyone you meet, children and adults alike, ‘Read this! Now! And that’s an order!’ Louis Sachar’s Holes is like that. When I finished it, I felt like standing up and punching the air. Written in clear, economic prose, the complex plot consists of three stories, elegantly woven into one highly original and utterly compelling tale peopled with a cast of memorable characters. The hero, Stanley Yelnats – he of the palindromic name – comes from a family with a history of bad luck, blamed on his ‘no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather’. Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, Stanley is sent to Camp Green, boy’s juvenile detention centre, where he is made to dig a hole a day in the dry lake bed. The burning question is, why? For punishment? For character forming reasons? Or is there more to it than meets the eye? I read the book in two sittings, then gave it to my teenage daughter, who read it in one. My husband was next, and loved it. It’s currently on loan to a nine-year-old. I’m giving it to my aunty for Christmas. Like all the very best stories, Holes appeals right across the age range.
It won several prestigious awards in the USA – and quite right too. It’s a great book. If I had written it, I would burst with pride.
Holes is published by Bloomsbury, 0 7475 4648 7, £10.99 hbk, 0 7475 4459 X, £5.99 pbk. Kaye Umansky’s latest book is Wilma’s Wicked Revenge, Puffin, 0 14 130442 1, £3.99 pbk.