Holes is an engrossing story that grabs the reader’s attention. It is perfect for middle school children, around seventh grade. Since the writing style is plain and straightforward, and space to draw one’s own conclusions is given, the children will not only understand the plot, but also feel some freedom in interpreting the events and relationships.
Important topics for the young reader like friendship, family and courage, which play a significant role in their own lives, are presented. The different genres offer something for every kind of reader: there is adventure, fantasy, and mystery. There is even the opportunity to travel into America’s western frontier past. Teachers can use this novel as a starting off point to provide the students with a window into another historical and cultural period.
From the first page, the reader is placed into the role of detective, trying to put all the different narrative pieces together and solve the mystery. As a result the book maintains a constant state of tension that keeps the reader enthralled.
The book revolves around a group of criminal boys, their harsh living and working conditions, and the friendships, disputes, and reconciliations that they engage in. As a result, it may be of less interest for middle school girls, who might not be able to relate as clearly to the protagonist. Luckily, the subplot about Kissin’ Kate Barlow, a strong and independent woman who fights injustice, could easily win the girls over.