Saturday, January 31, 2009

hole in my life

Gantos, Jack. Hole in my Life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.

[Book cover credit:]

American Library Association Notable Children's Book (2003)
Sibert Honor (2003)
ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2003)
Massachusetts Book Award - Children/Young Adult (2003)
A Horn Book FanFare Best Book (2002)

Jack Gantos started living on his own and making his own decisions, for better or worse, before graduating high school. He lives in his own world of literary splendor, physical squalor, and weed induced fascination/boredom with it all. To make money, Jack takes a job sailing a boat full of marijuana to New York City, where he is caught by federal agents. He recounts his trial, stay in prison, and how both change his lifelong dream to become a writer.
With the mugshot on the front and all they hype about this being a "prison memoir," readers may be a bit mislead. While Gantos does indeed talk about his unique prison experience, that is not the content that makes up the bulk of this book. Because the reader knows that a stint in prison is in store for Gantos, he uses it as the shadow that darkens everything leading up to his capture by federal agents. This leaves the reader feeling that this path was completely inevitable, rather than something that happened to Gantos because of a series of choices he himself made.
With an essentially uplifting ending, Hole in my Life fails to give the reader a true look into Gantos' life experiences or mind. His extended use of literary allusions a wide variety of sources keeps the reader either in the dark or on a goose chase looking for Gantos' meaning in other people's work. The overall effect is that of a watered down version of a story we have all already heard, with a large dose of "if I only knew then" on the side.

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