Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

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Synopsis

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.

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

 

About Jack Gantos

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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 Newbery Honor book, and Dead End in Norvelt, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Jack was raised in Norvelt, Pennsylvania, and when he was seven, his family moved to Barbados. He attended British schools, where there was much emphasis on reading and writing, and teachers made learning a lot of fun. When the family moved to south Florida, he found his new classmates uninterested in their studies, and his teachers spent most of their time disciplining students. Jack retreated to an abandoned bookmobile (three flat tires and empty of books) parked out behind the sandy ball field, and read for most of the day. The seeds for Jack's writing career were planted in sixth grade, when he read his sister's diary and decided he could write better than she could. He begged his mother for a diary and began to collect anecdotes he overheard at school, mostly from standing outside the teachers' lounge and listening to their lunchtime conversations. Later, he incorporated many of these anecdotes into stories. While in college, he and an illustrator friend, Nicole Rubel, began working on picture books. After a series of well-deserved rejections, they published their first book, Rotten Ralph, in 1976. It was a success and the beginning of Jack's career as a professional writer. Jack continued to write children's books and began to teach courses in children's book writing and children's literature. He developed the master's degree program in children's book writing at Emerson College and the Vermont College M.F.A. program for children's book writers. He now devotes his time to writing books and educational speaking. He lives with his family in Boston, Massachusetts.
 
Published March 26, 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). 209 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Biographies & Memoirs, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Crime, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Hole in My Life

The Guardian

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Much of the action - raw and unflinching as it is - will be riveting for most young readers, but aspiring writers of any age should read this book.

Feb 12 2005 | Read Full Review of Hole in My Life

Publishers Weekly

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"Gantos uses the same bold honesty found in his fiction to offer a riveting autobiographical account of his teen years [when he agreed to help smuggle hashish from Florida to New York and wound up in jail]," PW said.

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Publishers Weekly

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Knowing that the narrator is destined to land in jail keeps suspense at a high pitch, but this book's remarkable achievement is the multiple points of view that emerge, as experiences force a fledgling writer to continually revise his perspective of himself and the world around him.

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BookPage

Gantos is an award-winning children's author, but his compelling autobiography will appeal to readers of all ages.

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Ccls Young Adult Spot

Jack Gantos is a well known writer of children’s and young adult books including the Joey Pigza books and the Rotten Ralph books.

Jan 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Hole in My Life

SBY Teens

This type of writing not only makes the book accessible, almost as if you are reading a novel but also leaves all the judging to the readers in hope that they may see themselves or possibly even what they won’t do in the future.

May 05 2009 | Read Full Review of Hole in My Life

Reader Rating for Hole in My Life
85%

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