I have to admit I wasn't really looking forward to reading Louis Sachar's school reading circle staple, Holes. I don't find desert books especially appealing, particularly American desert books. Also Daughter No 2 had read this at primary school (in one of those aforementioned literature circles) and found it dull.

So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it. After a rather grinding start, the story picked up pace for me once the historical back story was introduced -- I would have liked more about the outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow, and less about the brutality of the camp. Perhaps it's just my tender Australian sensibilities but I was quite shocked by the casual violence and the nonchalant firing of guns  -- why are the 'counsellors' even carrying guns, in a juvenile facility in the middle of nowhere? Anyway, the details of the historical story and the events of the present day dovetailed with satisfying neatness, and issues of race, courage and loyalty were handled with a degree of subtlety.

I was planning to jettison this one after reading it, but I think I'll award a place on the permanent bookshelf after all.


  1. A wonderful book! Our Year 8 kids loved it. When the class text was replaced by lit circles, I scraped together a few copies to make it available for those students who wanted to read it - and there were kids borrowing it from the library. I gave them the option of doing book trailers as their creative response to their lit circles books and there were some good ones for Holes.
    It made a great movie too - if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it.

  2. I didn't know there was a movie! It would make an excellent film, I'll have to check it out. Thanks, Sue!

  3. Yes, it was a movie, with an impressive cast! Sigourney Weaver as the villain. A young Shia LeBoeuf as Stanley. Eartha Kitt as Madame Zeroni. Dule Hill - the President’s aide in West Wing - as Kate Barlow’s African American sweetheart. Henry Winkler aka The Fonz as Stanley’s Dad. The author even played a cameo as a townsman buying onion tonic!

  4. Wow, that is a stellar cast. I'm surprised I haven't come across it before.