Well a good book, is a good book. It doesn’t matter what age group it was written for.
This technically is probably more of a middle-grade, because of Stanley’s age, which is younger in the book than the movie. But it reads more like a YA book, and it was told beautifully. Here is the description from Amazon:
This winner of the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award features Stanley Yelnats, a kid who is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake: the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.
What I loved most about the book, is it’s a story within a story. It takes place mostly at the camp, after Stanley has been sentenced and he befriends a younger boy named Zero. The interesting thing about it is the town’s history, because it didn’t always used to be a dried up lake. It was once a rich town with a charming school teacher, and a friendly black man who sold onions.
Racism and jealousy ripped the town apart, and drove the nice school teacher to become Kissin’ Kate Barlow, the most feared outlaw of the era. And it was said she buried treasure somewhere near the lake, and generations have been spent searching for such riches.
Luckily, it wasn’t the crazy treasure-hungry Warden who found it. But rather, the hero of the story, Stanley. It was a pretty predictable ending in that regard, that the bad guy was going to lose, so that wasn’t really a spoiler. This book still had lots of surprises though, even when seeing the movie, like how many life-lessons were sprinkled into the story. Not just about mentally surviving, but about building confidence. And no, it wasn’t the hole-digging that gave Stanley his groove back.
This book was a real fun read. I read it because I always liked that movie with Shia Labeouf, titled the same. I read in an interview with the author on his own website, that the biggest challenge was the flow of the story with the town’s history story. I personally think he did a great job of blending the two stories together.
What impressed me, too, was that he also wrote the screenplay for the movie. And it shows because it’s pretty close to the book. I was delighted that the novel was as interesting and funny as the movie itself. The book was a fast-paced read and had a great flow from beginning to end.
I was a bit bored during the scenes where Stanley and Zero were on God’s Thumb, but the rest of it kept my interest. It was a quick read, only took a couple of days, and those are always my favorite.
Because of the story’s talent in telling the rich history in an interesting way, and the excitement surrendering Stanley and Camp Green Lake, I am happy to give it 4 solid stars.
Have you read the book or seen the movie? What was your impressions? Are you a fan of Shia Labeouf? Share your thoughts!