by Louis Sachar
In this sequel to the award-winning Holes
, a former inmate of Camp Green Lake boys correctional facility is taking small steps to get his life back on track. Theodore Johnson, also known as Armpit (and NOT because of his body odor) has modest goals: stay out of trouble, finish school, get an honest job, save some money, and lose the name Armpit. It helps that the little neighbor girl with cerebral palsy trusts him. But it isnt easy for a kid whose skin is the wrong color, living on the wrong side of Austin, Texas, with a slight anger problem and a friend like X-Ray.
Armpit is doing pretty well with most of his small steps. He is attending summer school. He has a landscaping job. He has money in the bank. Then X-Ray comes along and talks Armpit into investing some of his savings in a ticket-scalping scheme. This leads to trouble at a teenage divas concert, a backstage pass to meet the beautiful Kaira DeLeon, and some unexpected romance. But it also leads to trouble with the police, trouble with a couple of petty criminals, trouble at work and school, and ultimately trouble with Kairas crooked manager, who sees Armpit as the perfect patsy for the murder he needs to cover up his embezzlement...
Once more, Sachar has written a teen novel full of grace and understanding toward the kind of young people some people might cross the street to avoid. He has filled it with romantic tension, foreboding, and suspense, as well as humor and good-natured fun. And, if I can say this much without giving it all away, he has given it a hopeful but not too-perfect ending.
Its a down-to-earth story, not as mythic as Holes, but it awakens the imagination to such things as the loneliness of fame, the courage of a disabled child, the miraculous power of respect, and small steps one must take to keep ones balance against the currents of life.
Recommended Age: 13+
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