Stanley Yelnats's family has a history of bad luck, so he isn't too surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to a boys' juvenile detention center, Camp Green Lake. But there is no lake--it has been dry for over a hundred years--and it's hardly a camp: as punishment, the boys must each dig a hole a day, five feet deep, five feet across, in the hard earth of the dried-up lake bed. The warden claims that this pointless labor builds character, but that's a lie. Stanley must try to dig up the truth.
In this wonderfully inventive, compelling novel that is both serious and funny, Louis Sachar weaves a narrative puzzle that tangles and untangles, until it becomes clear that the hand of fate has been at work in the lives of the characters--and their forebears--for generations. It is a darkly humorous tale of crime, punishment, and redemption.