H is for Holes #AtoZChallenge #PandemicAlphabet

April 9, 2021

Holes came up in a Twitter discussion sparked by my Ella Enchanted post, and in that moment, I realized how absolutely perfectly it fits my theme.

I realize when I say Holes, you may be wondering if I mean the Newbery and National Book Award winning novel written by Louis Sachar or the movie adaptation starring Shia LaBeouf and also written by Louis Sachar.

I know it may come as a shock, but the answer to that is yes. Yes, of course I’m talking about both.

Listen, the thing about the book is that it’s perfect. I mean, it is FLAWLESS. I have read it three times (once via audio), and I have been in awe of it every single time. I have also seen the movie more than once and if you are a fan of truly faithful adaptations, Holes the movie will not disappoint. Basically, the only difference between the movie and the book is that movie Stanley is skinny, but Shia LaBeouf absolutely nails the naivete and vulnerability of Stanley so much so that even though he shouldn’t work as Stanley, he does.

Okay, so a brief overview of the plot: Stanley gets sent to Camp Green Lake for stealing a pair of shoes that he most definitely did not steal. He’s just a good kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he’s also poor which means his family can’t afford a good lawyer so into the system he goes. The camp is not a camp, though. The camp is a juvenile detention center where the boys are sent out in the hot sun every day to dig a hole as deep and wide as their shovels. Over the course of the book, as Stanley adjusts to life at the camp, he befriends a boy named Zero and we find out why Stanley’s family has terrible luck and why the lake dried up.

All of the storylines with Stanley, Zero, and the Warden; Kate and Sam the Onion Man; and, of course, that big empty lake all overlap and interweave in such deft storytelling that, again, just leaves me in awe. As I said in my review of the audiobook, Sachar addresses race, class, retribution, reparations, grief, self-esteem, family, found family, corruption, and a bunch of other stuff, all in 233 pages (four hours on CD).

I am talking about the book here, but because the movie is so faithful to the book, it does the exact same things except makes some of the connection just a touch more obvious. And the cast! The cast is so awesome. Not only do you have the kids who are just great, there’s also Sigourney Weaver, Eartha Kitt, Patricia Arquette, Henry Winkler and, of course, there’s this guy:

i can fix that

Why, yes, that is my boo Dulé Hill as one Sam the Onion man. You may recognize him from his work on Psych where he plays Burton Guster.

i can fix that psych

If you want, you can even watch the Holes homage episode of Psych (S2:E2 “65 Million Years Off”) after watching the movie, as a treat.

Also, many years ago, I tweeted at Dulé Hill to ask if he had read the book and he RESPONDED and said YES and honestly, I should have quit Twitter then because that was the high point of my time on that hell site.

Oh wait, found the tweet. The original is unavailable for some reason, but the reply will now live on for eternity.

holes tweet

REPLYING TO @THEakilahbrown. That is me! It is forever immortalized. (@englishist is my old Twitter username.) But I digress.

Sigourney Weaver is actual perfection in the movie, and I love to randomly quote this scene, which means absolutely nothing to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie.

empty spaces

Excuse me? It’s all in the delivery. I love her.

I do have to say that there are some heavy topics covered here, the biggest of which is that [SPOILER] Sam gets lynched (offscreen in the movie, but still) [/SPOILER], which is absolutely horrible and not something that anyone wants to experience right now, I know. This is why I’m warning you that it happens. HOWEVER, did you see above where I said one of the topics covered is retribution? Well, justice gets served 100%. Justice gets served, reparations are made, and you will finish the story feeling such a deep sense of satisfaction, I promise.

This does lend itself more to justice than joy (though there is quite a bit of humor in the story–especially the movie, which is in no way a heavy watch, even though the spoiler made my daughter cry when she was a kid), but whichever version you choose, you really can’t go wrong with consuming Holes during the pandemic.

Oh, and I dare you not to get the movie’s theme song stuck in your head.

I dare you.

For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have decided that I’m going to focus on comfort reads/watches as we enter our second (!) April in the pandemic. Tune in tomorrow to see what I choose for I!

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  1. Chandra Lynn

    Your enthusiasm has caused me to add both to my list!

    • Akilah

      YAY. I hope you like them!

  2. @breakerofthings

    Love the film! The book is on my “I really should get a copy of this” list…

    David – @BreakerOfThings from
    Fiction Can Be Fun
    Saying hello as part of the #A2ZChallenge

    • Akilah

      You really should get a copy!

      • @breakerofthings

        I really should!

  3. jlennidorner

    Yay, people wearing hats. I can use this in the scavenger hunt.

    But seriously. I do remember this book and movie. Oddly, I watched Holes and Tremors for the first time in the same week. (That shouldn’t go together. But it doesn’t *not* go together.)

    J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author


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