The “Ahhh” at The End

You know it’s a good book when you reach the last page, close it, and smile.


My fellow Scriblerian, T.J., insisted that I should read Holes by Louis Sachar. Since I write realistic fiction for middle grades, he said Sachar was great at realism mixed with humor. So I went to the library and read the blurb on the book jacket.

Why would I want to read a dreary story about cruel people who run a camp for juvenile delinquents? About the hot, Texas desert full of poisonous lizards? I hate depressing stories. And hot deserts. And poisonous lizards… and spiders… and snakes.

credit to

credit to

But I trust my writing buddy.

I checked out the book. And it was depressing.

But not so much that I wouldn’t stop reading it.

In fact, I couldn’t put it down! Sachar fed me regular doses of humor in every chapter. He allowed the main 13-year-old character to mature in all the right ways, transformed questionable characters into people you could love, and made sure the villains were so villainous you had to laugh.

Realistic fiction? I’m not sure. The series of coincidences between Stanley’s family history and his current circumstances were beyond my normal suspension of disbelief, so for me the book approaches the legendary qualities of Paul Bunyan. Still. Highly entertaining.

By the time I reached “The End,” every crazy coincidence had a logical explanation, every loose end left dangling had been tied in, and the main characters had hopeful futures.

And me, the Reader, had a smile on my face.


Am I too much of an optimist? Do you prefer a story that leaves you with questions? Something unfinished? Or like me, do you want a sense of completion, an “ahhh…” as you close the book?


9 thoughts on “The “Ahhh” at The End

  1. Sachar was very ambitious for middle graders. He essentially told three stories simultaneously. The prose was scaled back considerably, but I remember reading this with my son when he was in middle school. We both enjoyed the story and sharing it with each other. The Disney movie was a very respectable adaptation that I think Sachar should be very pleased with.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will have to find the movie. That would be very interesting.


  3. I read the book years ago, but haven’t seen the movie yet. And yes, I like my stories to feel at least mostly wrapped up at the end. I’m okay with not every single thing being tied up neatly with a bow, but the major conflict needs to be resolved. And if the author can make a lot of the story fit together at the end, all the better. I guess that’ sway I love traditional mysteries so much. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You would like this novel. It never felt forced or telegraphed, but it’s not perfect. It’s a very challenging write considering the audience.


    • I think that’s why I could breathe out a very satisfied “ahhh” at the end of Holes. So many details didn’t have any sense of connection for me at first, and I wondered what all the family lore had to do with Stanley’s predicament. Sachar tied up every detail.


  4. I think the first time I heard of this was when I was in grade school and the film was released. I didn’t read it until my senior year of high school though. It definitely exceeded my expectations and left me satisfied in the end!


  5. I haven’t read the book yet but it’s been on my radar for a while because I enjoyed the movie so much. 🙂


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