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Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Hole in My Life

by Jack Gantos

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6444214,998 (3.75)17



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In 1971, Jack Gantos took a summer job on a boat. He and his crewmates were trying to smuggle a shipment of pot from the Virgin Islands to New York City, They were caught, and Gantos was sentenced to six years in prison. This memoir describes how he survived and taught himself to write. Harrowing, suspenseful, funny and inspirational. ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
I spend so much time reading the new teen books I dont always think to read the classic teen novels. Hole in My Life is the biography of Jack Gantos chronicling his early years and time served in prison. I don't love his fiction novels but learning about his life was fascinating. The reality of his situation was hard to accept but readers can take away a lot of lessons from the mistakes Gantos made. This is a good nonfiction readalike for teens who enjoy Paul Volponi novels. ( )
  SparklePonies | Mar 5, 2014 |
I heard Jack Gantos speak when he was a guest on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me," and his four-disc audiobook biography seemed a good fit for a long drive. I dozed off for a little bit of it (I wasn't driving!) but that wasn't the book's fault; it's very well done - a cautionary tale that avoids being preachy. ( )
  JennyArch | Jan 21, 2014 |
Jack’s desire to be a writer and to get money for college led him to take a desperate rust gat didn’t work out. For ten grand he agreed to crew a boat smuggling a ton of hashish from St. Croix to New York City. After weeks of sloppy and scared sailing he and the captain—the whole crew was the two of them—crashing into a New York marina. Two weeks later they had sold most of the dope when the Feds closed in on them, and Jack spent nineteen frightened months in a federal prison.

Gantos’s memoir is brilliant in its simplicity and brutal honesty. ( )
  MaowangVater | Oct 26, 2013 |
Gantos' memoir was a runner up for both a Printz Award and a Siebert Medal so I am in good company in my decision to rate this a 5Q on the VOYA scale. His story picks up shortly before his high school graduation and sets the scene for his short career in smuggling marijuana from the Virgin Islands to New York and his resulting capture, imprisonment and release.

His memoir focuses on his teen and young adult years and free-spirited lifestyle during the early '70's, making it both relatable and interesting to YA readers. Because it is also a story of prison experience and smuggling, it would both interest those whose lives are touched by similiar experiences and those who know nothing about these experiences and are just curios. I suspect it may be somewhat more popular with guys because of the male perspective. Not all readers would be into this story, however, the beginning can feel a bit slow (though everything comes together by the end and every bit is necessary). Gantos also makes a plethora of literary references that aren't always clear because many of the works he mentions are lengthy classics or popular works of the time period. (Ex. " I ... felt as Marlowe had, searching the shoreline for Kurtz in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." p. 109) Missing out on those references doesn't impede the story though, and might inspire readers to pick up the works to which he refers. ( )
  Lomilia | Apr 29, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374430896, Paperback)

"I find myself moving like a knife, carving my way around people, cutting myself out of their picture and leaving nothing of myself behind but a hole." A gaping hole of misery is what popular young adult author Jack Gantos remembers when he thinks back to 1972, "the bleakest year of my life." Just 20 years old, Gantos was in a medium security prison for his participation in a get-rich-quick drug scam. Scared silly by the violence he saw around him daily, Gantos's only lifeline was a battered copy of The Brothers Karamazov, which he painstakingly turned into an impromptu journal by scratching his own thoughts into the tiny spaces between the lines. There, he recorded both his fears and his dream of someday writing a book of his own. Before prison, Gantos had penned a scattered myriad of journals, but had never been able to pull them together into a cohesive narrative. It was during his time behind bars that he found himself growing into a focused, diligent writer who eschewed drugs for the bigger high of watching his words fill the hole once and for all.

Gantos, best known for his award-winning Joey Pigza titles, mines darker material here that is as deeply compelling as his lighter fare. Using short, meaty sentences, Gantos manages to write in a way that dismisses the dubious "romance" of prison, drugs, and "life on the edge" without ever sounding didactic or heavy-handed. Older teens will appreciate his candor and sheer willingness to give them the straight story. Vigorously recommended. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The author relates how, as a young adult, he became a drug user and smuggler, was arrested, did time in prison, and eventually got out and went to college, all the while hoping to become a writer. 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.… (more)

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