Results of the Michael L. Printz Award in the year 2003.
By turns playful and wrenching, thrilling and meditative, this extraordinary novel, told in dual narratives, takes the reader on a memorable voyage of discovery-the discovery of family secrets, of sex, of art, and of oneself in a foreign city or in the midst of war.
Seventeen-year-old backpacker Jacob Todd has come to Amsterdam to honor his grandfather, a soldier who died in a nearby town in World War II. He isn’t ready for the seductive assault the city launches on his senses. A stranger flirts with him in a café leaving him with this prophetic scribbled message: Nothing in Amsterdam is what it appears to be. In 1944, teenage Geertrui, living in occupied Holland, meets another Jacob Todd, an English soldier who must hide with her family after his battalion pulls out. In the midst of terrible danger, the two become lovers, linking their families in a way that resonates in the present.
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.
At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón’s bodyguard, “How old am I?…I know I don’t have a birthday like humans, but I was born.”
“You were harvested,” Tam Lin reminds him. “You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her.”
To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico—Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.
Ellen loves Link and James. Her older brother and his best friend are the only company she ever wants. She knows they fight, but she makes it a policy never to take sides. She loves her brother, the math genius and track star. She is totally, madly in love with James, his face full of long eyelashes and hidden smiles. “When you grow out of it,” James teases her, “you will break my heart.”
Ellen knows she”ll never outgrow it. She”ll always love James just the way she”ll always love Link. Then someone at school asks if Link and James might be in love with each other. A simple question.
Link refuses to discuss it. James refuses to stay friends with a boy so full of secrets. Ellen”s parents want Link to keep his secrets to himself, but Ellen wants to know who her brother really is. When is curiosity a betrayal? And if James says…[more]