Louis Sachar's novel, Holes, has entertained many young readers through its excellent story, plot, and structure. In his many novels, he has illustrated many scenes brimming with suspense and excitement. His astounding writing skills have earned Holes the National Book Award, the New York Times "Outstanding Book of the Year" Award, and many others.
Louis Sachar was born in East Meadow, New York on March 20, 1954 (Herndon 1). He was a good student and enjoyed grade school, but it was in high school when he developed an interest for reading. In college, Sachar took on a school teaching job at Hillside Elementary. The students here inspired Sachar to write his first book, which eventually expanded into The Wayside School Series. These novels were a great success.
The book opens with an introduction to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp. Sachar explains how this desolate wasteland is not a favorable dwelling place for anyone. The reader is then introduced to the main character, Stanley Yelnats, who had been wrongly charged with theft. He had been sent to Camp Green Lake.
Eventually, Stanley realized that he not only had to work hard for the Warden, but for the respect of his peers, as well. The children at Green Lake were made to work long hours in the hot sun, digging holes for the Warden. The Warden was looking for something.
At this point, the author intertwines separate stories from the past to give us some history. He states that the Yelnats family had been cursed for many years now, because of a mistake made by Stanley's great-great grandfather. An old woman named Madame Zeroni gave Stanley's great-great grandfather a pig in return for a promise: He must carry Madame Zeroni up the mountain and sing her a song once the pig grows to be strong. He became disappointed with the love of his life and sailed to America, without fulfilling his promise to Madame Zeroni. For generations, the Yelnats family thought they were cursed because of this failed promise. They did not know that Stanley would be the one to lift the burden off the family's shoulders forever.
After much exhaustion from the camp's hardships, Stanley ran away from camp after his friend Hector Zeroni, Madame Zeroni's great-great grandson. Finding him many miles away from camp, Stanley had no choice but to stay out in the desert until they got some rest. They saw a mountain known as "God's Thumb," and decided to climb it. Hector was worn down by the intense desert heat and had no energy to climb. Stanley, being a good friend, carried Hector up the mountain, breaking the curse and fulfilling the promise made to Madame Zeroni by Stanley's great-great grandfather.
At the top of the mountain, Hector and Stanley were replenished by an abundance of onions and water. They gained back some strength and returned to camp to search for Kate Barlow's treasure. They recovered the treasure only to find that the suitcase belonged to Stanley's great-great grandfather. Stanley's attorney showed up at Green Lake in time to prove his innocence. Stanley left Camp Green Lake that day with his family's treasure.
Louis Sachar enhances the quality of Holes in many ways. Naturally, a reader will judge a book by its introduction and initial chapters. Sachar does an excellent job of capturing the reader's attention in the early stages of reading. His introduction in Holes is anything but boring. By creating suspenseful images early in the book, Sachar is drawing the attention of his readers:
Being bitten by a scorpion or even a rattlesnake is not the worst thing that can happen to you. You won't die. Usually. But you don't want to be bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard. That's the worst thing that can happen to you. You will die a slow and painful death. Always. (Sachar 4)
Another impressive writing skill is Sachar's ability to create visual images in his
reader's minds. Some of the exciting parts of Holes are so interesting that the reader will imagine the scene in his or her head, further enhancing the overall quality of the book:
The light also illuminated Stanley's hole. He glanced downward and had to force himself to suppress a scream. He was standing in a lizard nest. He felt the scream explode inside him. He could see six lizards. There were three on the ground, two on his left leg, and one on his right sneaker. He tried to remain very still. Something was crawling up the back of his neck. (Sachar 205)
Holes is not written with language that is too hard to understand. High-level vocabulary can be off-putting and discouraging to many readers. Therefore, this book may easily entertain a large audience. This, together with an outstanding plot, has earned Holes a very good name in the world of literature.
The story is told in the third person point of view. This is very appropriate for the story. This allows the reader to keep guessing on what is to come in the book. Third person point of view is ideal for keeping the reader involved in the suspense of the story.
Ultimately, Louis Sachar has proven to be a skilled writer through his well-written book, Holes. His skills have made him one of the leading children's authors of today (Vescia 24). He will continue to produce best sellers and remain one of the greatest authors well into the future.