EL本棚紹介(90) Holes, by Louis Sachar

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]


Holes tells the story of Stanley Yelnats, who is sent as a punishment to Camp Green Lake. The camp is in the middle of a desert and all of the boys there are forced to dig holes every day. This work is supposed to teach them discipline. However, Stanley realizes that the “Warden” who owns the camp is searching for buried treasure. With some quick thinking and a new friend, Stanley goes on an adventure to solve the mystery of the treasure.

This is a very popular book in schools in the US, and it was also turned into a movie (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0311289/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0_tt_6_nm_2_q_holes). Most chapters are very short and the language is not very difficult. The story jumps back and forth about 100 years, connecting the story in the present with Stanley’s family history. There is a lot of humor, and some themes about racism, destiny, and magic. It is not a particularly challenging book, but the story is interesting, the mystery deep, and the characters are diverse enough to keep you wanting to read some more.

My two cents: This story takes place in Texas, USA. You may be surprised to know that corporal “boot camps” like Camp Green Lake were actually very popular in the 1990s when the book was written, and still exist in places like Texas. The US army even continues to run boot camps for “troubled teens.” This documentary makes it sounds like these camps really help young people, but actually there is little evidence that they are effective at that, and in the worst cases, they are actually abusive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpopZWVEuRk.