How I Read It: Paperback
Why I Read It: I bought it from a thrift store at the end of last summer & my friend helped me choose what book I should read next!
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
This is a stand alone novel, which was turned into a movie. Of course I watched the movie first when I was younger. Now I've read the book!
Summary from Goodreads: And so, Stanley Yelnats seems set to serve an easy sentence, which is only fair because he is as innocent as you or me. But Stanley is not going where he thinks he is. Camp Green Lake is like no other camp anywhere. It is a bizarre, almost otherworldly place that has no lake and nothing that is green. Nor is it a camp, at least not the kind of camp kids look forward to in the summertime. It is a place that once held "the largest lake in Texas," but today it is only a scorching desert wasteland, dotted with countless holes dug by the boys who live at the camp.Quick Summary for those who have not read it yet:
The trouble started when Stanley was accused of stealing a pair of shoes donated by basketball great Clyde "Sweetfeet" Livingston to a celebrity auction. In court, the judge doesn't believe Stanley's claim that the shoes fell from the sky onto his head. And yet, that's exactly what happened. Oddly, though, Stanley doesn't blame the judge for falsely convicting him. Instead, he blames the whole misadventure on his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather." Thanks to this benighted distant relative, the Yelnats family had been cursed for generations. For Stanley, his current troubles are just a natural part of being a Yelnats.
At Camp Green Lake, 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 boys are digging holes because the treacherous warden is searching for something, and before long Stanley begins his own search—for the truth.
Fate conspires to resolve it all—the family curse, the mystery of the holes, the drought that destroyed Green Lake, and also, the legend of Kissing Kate Barlow, an infamous outlaw of the Wild West. The great wheel of justice has ground slowly for generations, but now it is about to reveal its verdict.
I'm sure most of you have seen the movie already. The movie lives up to this book. It was so close to accurate I could have cried. This book was amazing and for once, there was no romance involved (beside Kate and Sam but those are minor details...). Almost all the time, I read books with romance and that intrigues me so so much. I didn't need romance to become intrigued. Just the overall story did that for me. I recommend this for those young and old who love books as much as I do.
The characters were a great aspect to the story, as well as their backstories. Stanley is one of those character that didn't have too many friends, and he was big, and he was poor. When he was wrongfully accused, he was sent to a camp for bad kids. He became friends with and was a part of a dysfunctional family of other bad kids: Armpit, X-Ray, Magnet, Zig Zag, Squid, and Zero. One thing I noticed throughout this book, is that Stanley rarely complained, he didn't cry, and he persevered. He tried not to cause trouble. Even when Mr. Sir repeatedly stopped giving him water, he turned the other cheek and always said, "Thank you, Mr. Sir." Zero is another great character. He's one of those misunderstood kids that nobody likes. He's so relatable. Everyone, but Stanley, treated him like he was nothing and he was too stupid to know anything. But, he surprised everyone. He was great at math and he had a great personality.
The best thing about this book was how everything came around full circle, how everything was connected. It all started with Stanley's great great grandfather who made a deal with Madame Zeroni. He would carry a pig up the mountain and have it drink water from the spring, and after he would carry Madame Zeroni up the mountain so she may drink. If he didn't do this, he would be cursed for all eternity. Ironically, Stanley carried Hector (who happened to be a descendant of Madame Zeroni) up the mountain 110 years later. The whole story with Kate Barlow and Sam was another thing. The place they lived 110 years ago would be Camp Greenlake 110 years later. The boat that Sam died in was the boat that Stanley and Zero took refuge in. Kate made spiced peaches. Stanley and Zero were kept alive because of those spiced peaches 110 years later. Sam grew onions. Stanley and Zero lived on those onions for a week on top of the mountain. Kate stole treasure from Stanley's great grandfather. Trout Walker, 20 years after Sam died, looked for the loot. The Warden, who happens to be a descendant of Trout, created Camp Greenlake in order to find the loot, which belonged to Stanley, in the end, and saved his family and Zero as well. The funny thing was, the day Sam died, it stopped raining. The day Stanley got his rightful treasure, left Camp Greenlake, and justice was served, it rained for the first time in 110 years.
This story was brilliant and is a great read for all readers. Young especially! It's a great book for those in middle grade who want to get into reading. I loved this book.