Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
Review by Lauren
Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own
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.