by Louis Sachar
How It All Goes Down
We're headed to camp! Actually, scratch that exclamation point: Holes begins with a description of Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention facility in Texas. Basically, it's a place for kids who have committed crimes. Stanley Yelnats, overweight, lonely, and poor, has been arrested for a crime he didn't commit, and he's on a bus headed for Camp Green Lake.
Stanley's arrest is just the latest in a string of bad fortunes for the Yelnats family. Turns out that several generations back, the Yelnatses were cursed by a one-legged gypsy. And over the course of the book, we get a glimpse into some different time periods: the story of Stanley Yelnats and his unlikely friendship with another camper named Zero; the story of Stanley's great-great-grandpa who was cursed by Madame Zeroni; and the story of Miss Katherine's transformation to Kissin' Kate Barlow after a failed love affair with an onion man.
In the end, all of these stories come together, and – spoiler alert – Stanley Yelnats comes out on top and the underdog prevails. Booya.