This was such a great read that I feel I could recommend it to anybody. Children, teenagers, adults, men or women. It’s a very quick read, but unlike some other short novels I read, it left quite a big impression on me. It’s probably because it can’t be categorised into anything I’ve read before and because it was so beautifully crafted. Its theme is unusual and it would be hard to convince someone to read it by simply telling them what it is about:
A clumsy and unlucky boy gets sent to a detention camp by mistake, where everyday, together with other “troubled” boys, he is made to dig a hole in the hard ground. Five feet deep, five feet across. Apparently this exercise is supposed to build their character and make them better boys, but there's something their warden is not telling them…
The truth is this is not just Stanley’s story at Camp Green Lake. It’s about Stanley’s ancestors, and about Stanley’s camp-mates. It’s about the weird connections that life lays ahead of us and how they affect our destiny one way or the other. It’s about lethal lizards and about onions. There’s also a hearth-breaking love story and a gypsy curse. And there’s friendship. Powerful and selfless friendship. That’s all I can say about it. More would spoil the plot, which is far more interesting than it sounds.
What I loved about it was the rewarding feeling that it gave me when all the threads came together in the end. All the different layers and the details in the story became one neat pattern of a jigsaw, which felt so satisfying. I love when the authors know exactly where they’re going and how they’re going to get there, even though it’s intimidating from an aspiring writer’s perspective.
I’m sure I will re-read it one day, which is saying a lot, since I don’t usually reread books.
Besides being a great piece of storytelling, it triggered many emotions. It was humorous, tragic and even heroic at some point. It was pure comfort reading. A book to keep for those reading slump sometimes people fall into. I can guarantee a speedy recovery!
Other blog reviews:
The Hidden side of a leaf
All Curled Up
In the Tower
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