Excerpt from Holes by Louis Sachar, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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by Louis Sachar

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  • First Published:
    Sep 1998, 233 pages
    May 2000, 233 pages

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The bus hit a small bump and the guard sat up, instantly alert.

Stanley’s father was an inventor. To be a successful inventor you need three things: intelligence, perseverance, and just a little bit of luck.

Stanley’s father was smart and had a lot of perseverance. Once he started a project he would work on it for years, often going days without sleep. He just never had any luck.

Every time an experiment failed, Stanley could hear him cursing his dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather.

Stanley’s father was also named Stanley Yelnats. Stanley’s father’s full name was Stanley Yelnats III. Our Stanley is Stanley Yelnats IV.

Everyone in his family had always liked the fact that “Stanley Yelnats” was spelled the same frontward and backward. So they kept naming their sons Stanley. Stanley was an only child, as was every other Stanley Yelnats before him.

All of them had something else in common. Despite their awful luck, they always remained hopeful. As Stanley’s father liked to say, “ I learned from failure.”

But perhaps that was part of the curse as well. If Stanley and his father weren’t always hopeful, then it wouldn’t hurt so much every time their hopes were crushed.

“Not every Stanley Yelnats has been a failure,” Stanley’s mother often pointed out, whenever Stanley or his father became so discouraged that they actually started to believe in the curse. The first Stanley Yelnats, Stanley’s great-grandfather, had made a fortune in the stock market. “He couldn’t have been too unlucky.”

At such times she neglected to mention the bad luck that befell the first Stanley Yelnats. He lost his entire fortune when he was moving from New York to California. His stagecoach was robbed by the outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow.

If it weren’t for that, Stanley’s family would now be living in a mansion on a beach in California. Instead, they were crammed in a tiny apartment that smelled of burning rubber and foot odor.

“If only, if only….

The apartment smelled the way it did because Stanley’s father was trying to invent a way to recycle old sneakers. “The first person who finds a use for old sneakers, “ he said, “will be a very rich man.”

It was this lastest project that led to Stanley’s arrest.
The bus ride became increasingly bumpy because the road was no longer paved.

Actually, Stanley had been impressed when he first found out that is great-grandfather was robbed by Kissin’ Kate Barlow. True, he would have preferred living on the beach in California, but it was still kind of cool to have someone in your family robbed by a famous outlaw.

Kate Barlow didn’t actually kiss Stanley’s great-grandfather. That would have been really cool, but she only kissed the men she killed. Instead, she robbed him and left him stranded in the middle of the desert.

“He was lucky to have survived,” Stanley’s mother was quick to point out.

The bus was slowing down. The guard grunted as he stretched out his arms.

“Welcome Camp Green Lake,” said the driver.

Excerpted from Holes by Louis Sachar Copyright © 2000 by Louis Sachar. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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