Latvia is an important setting for the story because it shows how Stanley's family was cursed and why Stanley is at Camp Green Lake today.
The setting in a book refers to both the time and place in which it takes place.
Holes is spattered with the kind of delightfully surreal fatalism you find in the work of the Beat writer Richard Brautigan. That same pointed style made it a breeze to read aloud to my younger son, aged six.
It has a life-enhancing optimism which reminds me of such books as The Little Prince and Jonathon Livingstone Seagull. Holes is that rare thing: a book which has found approval from critics, adults and children alike. He was able to appreciate the jokes and enjoy second-guessing the mystery. Yet the maturity of the sentiments and the poker-faced, humorous way of making serious points that Sachar has, made Holes an equally enjoyable read for my nieces, aged twelve and fourteen when I bought it for them.
Summary: Holes is a quirky, individual little book that can be read by children and adults alike. Victim of a miscarriage of justice, Stanley has been sent to Camp Green Lake.
Part mystery, part coming-of-age, part situation comedy and with top-drawer writing, it has something to appeal to everyone. A Times Educational Supplement Teachers' Top 100 Book If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy. Stanley is from a poor family and he's never spent a summer at camp before. Fear of the yellow-spotted lizard, "You don't want to be bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard. Always." Fear of the desert, "We've got the only water for a hundred miles. You'll be buzzard food in three days." Fear of the Warden, an elegant, manicured woman with who paints her fingernails with the venom of a rattlesnake.
Up at 4.30am, the boys at Green Lake must each dig such a hole, out in the heat of the desert, before he can return to camp and rest. And Stanley does wonder what good it does in rehabilitating Green Lake's young inmates. He does his best to fit in, too although it is difficult, and although no one believes in his innocence. He observes quietly, and tries to get by as best he can. Running in counterpoint to Stanley's woeful time at the camp is an alternative narrative that goes back in time to the days of Kissin' Kate Barlow, feared outlaw. She embarked upon a mixed-race relationship and the townsfolk murdered her lover. Kissin' Kate lived at Green Lake too, but way back then Green Lake was a lake.
Soon, it is obvious to Stanley that character building is not the only reason behind the digging of all these holes. It's certainly not redemption for the boys in her care. Since her lover's murder, no rain has fallen, and the lake has become the desert in which Stanley must dig.
Part of the story in 'Holes' is told through flashbacks to the mid-1800s and the late 1800s.
'Holes' takes place in three different places: Camp Green Lake, the old town of Green Lake, and Latvia, or the old country.