Stanley Yelnats’ family has a history of bad luck going back generations, so he is not too surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to Camp Green Lake Juvenile Detention Centre. Nor is he very surprised when he is told that his daily labour at the camp is to dig a hole, five foot wide by five foot deep, and report anything that he finds in that hole. The warden claims that it is character building, but this is a lie and Stanley must dig up the truth. In this wonderfully inventive, compelling novel that is both serious and funny, Louis Sachar has created a masterpiece that will leave all readers amazed and delighted by the author’s narrative flair and brilliantly handled plot.
Miss Riki’s Review:
I absolutely loved this novel. The story itself is at times haunting and bleak, yet still has a wonderful sense of magic and hope. What starts out as a somewhat depressing premise quickly becomes the backdrop for a delightful coming-of-age story. I loved Stanley Yelnats as a lead character. He’s just the right amount of eager, with plenty of room to grow as the story moves forward. His growth from beginning to end is gradual and believable. Even faced with great obstacles, Stanley never loses his innocence and eager desire to please. He simply becomes more mature.
One of my favorite elements of this book is the unlikely friendship that develops between Stanley and Zero. I loved seeing how they went from silent disregard to a mutually beneficial agreement, and then on to develop real bonds of friendship. Stanley never loses hope and remains vigilant in protecting Zero, even when things seem to be at their bleakest.
I also loved the backstory about Kissing Kate Barlow and how the tale intersects with Camp Green Lake and the mystery behind what the boys are digging for. I was enthralled by Kate and Sam’s beautiful love story and found the tragic tale to be compelling. The sense of magic in the story helps bring a sense of hope, despite the heartbreaking circumstance of the ending.
I picked up this book as required reading for a class in young adult literature and might not have read it otherwise, but I’m so glad that I did. I fell in love with Stanley Yelnats and the lively cast of Camp Green Lake characters.