Hole in My Life

Paperback | April 24, 2012

byJack Gantos

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Becoming a writer the hard way

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. This title has Common Core connections.

Hole in My Life is a 2003 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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From the Publisher

Becoming a writer the hard wayIn 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 ...

Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages, from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert Honors, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist, Joey Pigza Loses Control, a Newbe...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 8.2 × 5.44 × 0.59 inPublished:April 24, 2012Publisher:Square FishLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312641575

ISBN - 13:9780312641573

Customer Reviews of Hole in My Life

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Read from the Book

From Hole in My LifeFrom my cell window I could see a line of houses in the distance. All week the people had been putting up Halloween decorations. We didn't celebrate Halloween in prison . . . or, I should say, every day in prison was scarier than any Halloween, so there was no reason to do anything special on October 31st. But thinking of Halloween reminded me of a funny story from when I was in fifth grade. We were living in Kendall, Florida, right on the train tracks. One Halloween afternoon police cars flooded our neighborhood and announced that Halloween was canceled because there had been a prison break upstate at Raford. A couple of guys had hopped a freight and the cops thought they may have jumped off in our area. We locked our doors and turned on all the lights. We pulled the curtains. All night I scampered from window to window peeking out and looking for unshaven suspicious types in striped outfits. Every time a bush rustled in the wind my heart leapt. I saw rugged prison mugs in every shadow. It was the most exciting Halloween ever. The escapees were caught not far from our house and I was disappointed that I hadn't spotted them slinking around.I wrote this story down in my journal. From time to time I wrote down other funny stories and memories about my family and my childhood. It was a relief to write stories that didn't have bars around them.

Bookclub Guide

IntroductionIn Hole in My Life, Jack Gantos recountsan experience from his own life that manyother writers would rather keep hidden frompublic view. In the summer of 1971, the youngGantos, desperate for cash for college andwilling to take a risk, runs a boatload ofhashish from the Virgin Islands to New YorkCity. For this job, he is to receive $10,000. Inreality, he gets a six-year prison sentence.This hauntingly frank story is a slice-of-lifeautobiography that examines the events leading up to Gantos's decision to take partin illegal activities. He doesn't make excuses;he doesn't rationalize his behavior by sayinghe was young and foolish and impressionable.Instead, what Gantos does so wonderfully inthis book is to confront the mistakes of hispast head-on with no apologies.Gantos talks about his less than stellar finalyear of high school, his restless search forsomething to do after graduation, and his rashdecision to earn money quickly. Without agreat deal of thought, he accepts an offer froman acquaintance, Rik, to help run a boat filledwith hashish to New York. Once he and theskipper, Hamilton, are in the city, Gantoshelps his cohorts sell the drugs. Then hebegins to relax, telling himself that perhapsthings will work out, that his part in thisescapade will remain a secret. But that isnot to be. Rik is busted and snitches beforeHamilton and Gantos even arrive in NewYork. Unbeknownst to Gantos, all of hiscustomers have been rounded up and haveprovided statements identifying him. Gantosis the last one to be caught and thereforecannot "cooperate" by providing names ofdrug contacts in St. Croix. At the trial, theprosecutor, stating his belief that Gantosis withholding information, recommendsincarceration. Gantos's log of the journeyis also used against him, and he is left toface severe consequences for his actions.The result: a sentence harsher than hiscompanions'.Once in prison, Gantos has the opportunityto reflect more sensibly on his career goal -to become a writer - and to set up a carefullydeveloped plan for reaching it. At first the goalseems elusive. The harsh day-to-day existenceinside the prison makes Gantos wonder if hewill ever be able to realize any of his dreams.However, determination to prove himselfpropels Gantos forward into action, positiveactions that ultimately lead to his release fromprison and the beginning of his new life.Gantos's frankness and his ability to criticallyexamine his impetuous youth blend seamlesslyto create a story at once riveting withexcitement while tempered with caveats forthe reader. Never preachy, this book instead gives readers a chance to observe Gantos,to draw their own conclusions about hisbehavior, and, most important, to benefitfrom his experience.

Editorial Reviews

"A memoir, by turns harrowing and hilarious, about a huge mistake." -Miami Herald"His account is remarkably free of both self-pity and self-censorship. . . . This is a tale of courage and redemption, proving that a bad start in life does not have to lead to a bad life story." -The New York Times Book Review"Gantos really is Everyman, but an Everyman who has landed himself into a deeper pit than most. What separates Gantos is the determination that took him out of his dreams and into a successful life as a writer. Those writerly skills are in full evidence here, in this thoughtful and provocative memoir as valuable to those who have never heard of Gantos as to those who have read all of his books." -Hyde Park Review of Books"The ultimate cautionary tale." -Smithsonian"This true tale of the worst year in the author's life will be a big surprise for his many fans. . . .This is a story of mistakes, dues, redemption, and finally success at what he always wanted to do: write books." -Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review