Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos


Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer looking for adventure, cash for college tuition, and a way out of a dead-end job. For ten thousand dollars, he recklessly agreed to help sail a sixty-foot yacht loaded with a ton of hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents caught up with them. For his part in the conspiracy, Gantos was sentenced to serve up to six years in prison.

In Hole in My Life, this prizewinning author of over thirty books for young people confronts the period of struggle and confinement that marked the end of his own youth. On the surface, the narrative tumbles from one crazed moment to the next as Gantos pieces together the story of his restless final year of high school, his short-lived career as a criminal, and his time in prison. But running just beneath the action is the story of how Gantos - once he was locked up in a small, yellow-walled cell - moved from wanting to be a writer to writing, and how dedicating himself more fully to the thing he most wanted to do helped him endure and ultimately overcome the worst experience of his life.


Review: Jack Gantos is a writer of popular middle grade fiction, but before he ever got to that point, he was arrested for helping to sail a boat to New York City full of drugs in order to earn ten thousand dollars. I read Jack Gantos last semester (in the fall) for my children’s fiction course, and this semester (the spring), I read Hole in My Life for my young adult literature course. It was interesting to read how a young man was able to drastically turn his life around. Young Gantos was not a bad kid, but he obviously made some really bad decisions that led him on his path to jail.

Much of the book focuses on Gantos finishing high school and how he ended up meeting the people who were smuggling drugs. It takes a bit to get to the parts about his time in jail, but I didn’t mind this. Honestly, I’m hesitant to read books set in jails, especially true stories, but this was an assigned book, so I plunged in, not sure what I would think.

Overall, I liked Hole in My Life. It’s a short, quick read that shows the consequences of one’s actions, as well as the necessity to have passion and positive goals in one’s life. Despite the lessons one can learn from this book, it never felt preachy. Each chapter was almost like an essay in Gantos’ life, where everything eventually comes together to complete one full story. As for the chapters about Gantos’ time in jail, they were tough to read, but it was helpful knowing he gets out of prison and ends up on a better path.

12 comments:

Erika Sorocco said...

This one sounds highly intriguing.

xx

Brandi Kosiner said...

Short, quick and enjoyable sounds great

Karen said...

That's a wild story!

Karen @For What It's Worth

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

This definitely looks interesting, and I am sure you could glean a thing or two from it.

Lindy Gomez said...

I like when we can learn life lessons from other people's experiences. I'm glad that this story didn't come off as preachy. Maybe it will help others see that there is a better path, and you can turn your life around. Great Review Lauren :)

Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

Liviania said...

I've always meant to read this one since I like his books. What a crazy thing to have actually done.

Midnight Cowgirl said...

What a fascinating story!

kimbacaffeinate said...

This sounds so interesting and I love that it didn't come of as preachy but rather shared and allowed the reader to take away from it.

Cait @ Paper Fury said...

Oooh, this DOES sound good. Although sad, but true, true, when you know that he gets out and gets his life sorted, that does give the book a whole heap of hope. ^-^
Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

Sharons Book Nook! said...

Sounds like an interesting read. Glad it wasn't preachy, that's always a bonus.

Joyous Reads said...

I would be wary of those tough scenes in prison as well, but they're wholly necessary, aren't they? Really must endeavour to read at least one non-fiction this year!

Kirsty-Marie Jones said...

Sounds like he didn't shy away from anything though, sounds really honest. :)