Stanley Yelnats is an overweight teen who is one day wrongly accused of stealing a pair of shoes donated to an orphanage by a famous baseball player. No one believes him when he says they fell on him from the sky. Stanley’s family has always suffered from bad luck, which they believe is due to a curse brought about by his “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather”, Elya Yelnats. Sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention centre for boys, and which is in fact a desert, Stanley has no choice but to tough it out. Character building at Camp Green Lake is achieved by digging holes in the desert exactly 5 feet deep and wide every day.
Stanley meets a group of fellow juvenile convicts; the head counsellor Mr Sir who has recently quit smoking; Mr Pendaski, counsellor of D-Tent and referred to as Mom by all the kids; and the mysterious Warden. As days go by, Stanley comes to find that there’s more to the task of digging holes than character building, and that the lake hides some long lost secrets.
The plot consists of multiple story lines across many generations. There are snippets of stories spread between Stanley’s, which seem to make no sense, but eventually start coming together in delightfully complex ways. Every action and inaction of the past has a ripple effect on the future. It’s a clever story with good, believable characters. The descriptions are vivid, making it easy to imagine everything; produce strong visuals. Stanley’s dry humour keeps the novel interesting and holds attention. It’s a fun, profound, compelling book where you’re never given too much or too little information.
Over the years I’ve read this book multiple times and its charm has not yet worn off. A whimsical story that deals with themes of friendship, courage, racism, fortitude and destiny. Holes always has been, and always will be, one my favourite novels.
The film adaptation of the book was released in 2003. It was directed by Andrew Davis (Code of Silence, Under Siege, The Fugitive), starring Shia LaBeouf as Stanley Yelnats and distributed by Buena Vista.
The movie is as close and true to the novel as it’s possible to be. There are a few changes but none that take away from the story, evident in Sachar’s screenplay and involvement in the film. The actors are wonderful, especially Jon Voight as Mr Sir and Sigourney Weaver as The Warden.
The plot is well woven and comes full circle. The shifting times and stories are well portrayed. It’s a movie anyone can watch and enjoy – good for the whole family. One of those works which stay true to the original story and are better for it.