Hole In My Life
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Hole In My Life

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  3,621 ratings  ·  688 reviews
"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 i...more
Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published July 22nd 2003 by Listening Library (first published March 26th 2002)
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Dear James Frey,

This, my good man, is how you write a harrowing memoir about an endless string of bad decisions involving drugs that results in time spent in the pokey.

Kisses and cuddles,
You always hear tragic tales that involve drugs and you never think it could apply to you. Why would it? You're a decent person that knows right from wrong, it can't happen to you. When we are young, we all believe we are invincible, some of us still do.

Jack Gantos recounts his struggle starting as a young high school student aspiring to become a writer. He has plans for college so he can become a better writer but feels he has nothing to write about. Through his search for inspiration and lack...more
This book isn't as well-known as it should be. For one thing, most children's book authors don't admit to a criminal past. But Jack Gantos had the guts to do so, and it's a great story. Honest without being brutal, and always with that Gantos edge of detail and humor, I can close my eyes and still remember when I first encountered this book. I was impressed then, and I still am.
This young adult autobiography is a candid account of a young man whose aspirations to become a writer would not be fulfilled before he made some bad decisions and suffered the consequences.
While I think the book was well written and not an apology for his mistakes, I would not recommend hole in my life for the middle school students I teach. Gantos’ experiences with drugs, smuggling, and self-doubt are more appropriate for young adults. The quote from Oscar Wilde sums up why this IS a good bi...more
Jack Gantos, a children's author, writes a memoir about his last year of high school and how he ends up in prison. I picked it up because I thought it looked interesting and I wondered why it was in a middle school library. After reading it I would say it belongs in a high school library because of the drug references, prison violence, and prision rape. The moral of the story is a good one and it is nice to see him succeed after being in prison. It is a cautionary tale but a little too harsh for...more
Katie Dubik Schwarz
When a book starts with a whopper of an open line such as "The prisoner in the photograph is me" and the pages following that line tell a harrowing, incredible, true story of a foolish but likeable young man (with years of self-reflection between his mistakes and publication) and how one huge, bad decision goes down... Well, that requires a reader like me to read the book in one long inhale.

But Gantos' impressive writing slowed me down-- many passages were so good I had to read them twice. He i...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read this quickly and with moderate interest as to what would happen to young Jack in his journeys, both literal (as he ferried drugs) and figurative. I was especially struck by his story because he was a high school senior and then graduate, by the skin of his teeth, struggling to find his way in life. It wasn't that he was utterly lost--he knew he wanted to be a writer, and the maddeningly idealistic way in which he hopes, pines, and bounces around hoping to witness something great while wor...more
In this startling auto-biography author Jack Gantos recounts his time as a young man making careless mistakes. The book is beautifully written in a narrative fahion that never speaks down to it's reader. Gantos's account of his impressionable youth filled with misleadings is easily relatable to it's adolescent readers. Without ever regretting his decisions, Gantos instead teaches a valuable lesson to always learn and grow from everything you do. This book has heavy material that requires an olde...more
Jack Gantos's memoir, despite being promoted as the story of one big mistake is really an exploration of how a string of small mistakes can land you somewhere you never wanted to go. Gantos's downfall started with a seemingly innocent decision to accompany a friend to a party and smoke some weed. From there, Gantos makes a string of increasingly foolish decisions, spurred on by "friends" who aren't really friends at all, and unchecked by his parents, who are largely absent from the narrative. Wi...more
Mariel Lopez
The book “Hole in My Life” is about a teenage boy, Jack Gantos trying to figure out what his plans for the future will be. Throughout this journey he makes decisions that will affect his life in the long run. One of the most important was that he dropped out of college. He was planning on going to live with his parents, but before he left he wanted a road trip. He was inspired by Kerouc’s book “On the Road”, to just wanted to live it up and write about his experiences. His father’s company wasn’...more
The compelling story of the author's final year in high school, his brushes with crime, and his subsequent incarceration. Gantos has written much about his early years with his eccentric family, and this more serious book picks up the tale as they moved to Puerto Rico during his junior year. He returned to Florida alone, living in a seedy motel while he finished high school and realized that his options for college weren't great. A failed drug deal cost him most of his savings and he joined his...more
Erika Lawrence
Erika Lawrence

Gantos, J. (2002). Hole in my Life. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.



Selection Process: Something About the Author. Detroit: Gale Research


Hole in My Life is a personal account of the early years of Jack Gantos. Jack has aspirations and dreams of becoming a writer. He wants to attend a writing program at a college. Jack frequently reads and is well-versed in literature. He often compares himself or others to characters within novels. Jack wants to start wr...more
Lucas Pires Morais
Independent Reading
18th October 12
Hole in my Life
By Jack Gantos, Biography, 200 Pages
Hole in my life is a very eye opening auto biography by Jack Gantos, a young American man who led a life without any superstition. Today Gantos is a successful children’s book write, but he was not the person he is today. Jack learned from his mistakes the hard way. In this book, he explains how his life in high school was like and how he was a very spoiled boy, with fast cars and a fak...more
This biography is a hilarious book about one huge mistake that has changed Jack Gantos's life. The story is about his struggles during teenage years to become a writer. He describes himself as a naive teenager who ends up smuggling on the boat and eventually ending up in prison. He also describes difficulties for becoming a writer because he didn't known what to write for a long time. Moreover, he lived independently from his parents during his senior years. He thought that he was mature enough...more
Arya Moaref

Jack Gantos has an interesting life. This all starts from the second he walks onto a boat, which is carrying around 2000 pounds of drugs. The story becomes gradually suspenseful as he thinks of the ways he can be caught and starts to realize what would happen to him when he does get caught. But the climax starts when his friends get caught for smuggling drugs and he has to go in front of a judge and plead his case.


The story starts out very slow. Even though he gets on a boat in whic...more
Debbie Reiber

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos is an autobiography. It was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book in 2003. The age group this book is intended for is advance. The book describes Jack Gantos life from his teen years to his years in prison. He’s not very proud of his decisions that led to prison, but he’s learned that ignorance is no excuse.
I thought this was a good story. The details of his thoughts charmed me. I listened to audiobook; that was difficult, but I liked it. As I sit here writing this review...more
Shannon Miranda
Biography Genre

This is the autobiography written by children’s author Jack Gantos. It covers only a few years of his life (late teenage years) but these years were a critical turning point in his life. It is an honest and sometimes funny (especially the comedy of errors on the boat) memoir about a decent kid who makes some poor choices and the consequences (jail time) that follows. There are also a few positive themes in this book such as his desire to graduate high school, become...more
Steve H
Gantos is telling us about a difficult but also developmental period in his life, from his last couple years in high school to his early twenties. With an oddly skewed sense of humor and a bit of irony he recalls how his final high school was literally a refurbished prison, how he had few goals or interests other than reading and writing, and how he wound up in prison as a result of trying to make money in smuggling and selling drugs. It's not really the stuff of which humorous memoirs are made,...more
Elaine Pelton
“I stood up and went downstairs. But I didn’t sleep. Hamilton had read my mind – I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just afraid of the punishment.”

17-year-old Jack Gantos wants to be a writer. However, he’s a little confused as how to go about really becoming one. He spends a lot of time drinking himself into a stupor, smoking pot, working, and cruising around in his car. When he realizes he has no way to afford the cost of college, he moves out to St. Croix to help his father with the family con...more
Sandra Strange
This memoir begins with Jack’s prison photo. At nineteen, he casually agreed to help an acquaintance of an acquaintance smuggle a huge amount of drugs on a small boat from the Caribbean to New York City. The consequences of that amorally committed act marked him: he was caught and sent to prison, where he spent, luckily, fifteen months (luckily, because he could have spent six years there, according to his sentence). His narrative is frank and gripping. This book should be required reading for t...more
Sam Brannstrom
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joshua Harms
Hole in my Life is an immediately engaging young-adult autobiographical narrative that deals with common themes of regret and redemption in the uncommon settings of 1970s drug culture, race-revolutions, and drug smuggling. What makes this story even more compelling is that it’s the true account from an acclaimed children and young-adult author. This is a plotline that audiences would expect from fictional Hollywood—not the author of books like Rotten Ralph and Jack on the Tracks: Four Seasons of...more
Jonathan Kranz
I met Jack Gantos back in the early to mid '90's when he was an instructor in Emerson College's MFA program. He stood out from the pack. For starters, he was (and judging by his videos today, still is) a snappy dresser, a notable departure from the running-shoe and tired jeans look favored by many writers. His advice was uncommonly practical, with an emphasis on story structure that has proven very useful. And above all, there was his manner: unassuming, yet compelling; witty, but never deprecat...more
Jeffrey L.
A good friend gave me this book and told me it would be a fast and humorous read. She was right about fast, and she was right about funny. She didn't tell me how profound the book would be, how insightful and applicable.

Before Gantos became an award winning author of young adult novels, he was a kid struggling to find himself. This book takes us on his journey, from his young life in Florida to his higher teen years in the Virgin Islands where his family moved so his father could find work. Wha...more
Nick descisciolo
the book "Hole in My Life" by Jack Gantos is a memoir. He wrote this book telling the story behind how he ended up in prison for a mistake that seemed harmless in the beginning.

the story takes place all over the eastern coast of the united states in the 1970's. The main character is Jack Gantos ( the narrator) who's friends rick, and Hamilton get him in trouble. Rick and Hamilton were both older grown men, both stuck up and stubborn. Hamilton was jacks sailing partner. when they got to there fir...more
Name: Michelle Muro
Citation: Gantos, J. (2002). Hole in my life. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Genre: Informational
Award: Printz Honor
Format: Print
Selection Process: YALSA website


During the 1970s, all Jack Gantos wanted was to become a writer, a way into college, and a little adventure. However, the adventure he got changed his whole life. A drug dealer by the name of Rik offered him ten thousand dollars to sail a boat filled with two thousand pounds of hashish from St. Croix...more
Amber Wortz
Amber Wortz

Hole in My Life is an autobiography written by children's author Jack Gantos. Jack recounts the years of his life when he fell into alcohol, drugs, drug smuggling and the years he spent in prison because of the smuggling. He relives the depression that he faced and the events that made him turn his life around and fight his way to get out of prison.

I thought this was a great biography for teens. Jack did not hold back the details about the awful years he spent doing drugs and...more
Ever since reading Joey Pigza Swallowed a Key, I have always liked the original voice Jack Gantos has brought to children's literature and curious where it came from. In this memoir he tells of a pivotal time in his life when a criminal mistake led him to realize what he wanted the most - to be a writer. Being so honest about his past was risky for a children's writer, but I think that honesty is what gave him a genuine and real perspective in his books for young readers. His writing style is si...more
Saw this on the YA shelves and was struck that it really wasn't YA material. But after listening to it on CD, I guess it was. This children's book author made some mistakes when he was younger and ended up in jail. It was fascinating to listen to him (he read the CD) recount how he kind of stumbled almost innocently into smuggling drugs on a yacht from the Virgin Islands to NYC--he needed the money! I think that's how stupid, even criminal things happen--- when you just don't think things throug...more
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What's The Name o...: true story about smuggling drugs across the sea in a ship? [s] 7 27 Jan 15, 2012 10:25PM  
Imprisonment's Positive Effects 1 10 Oct 18, 2011 02:00PM  
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Jack Gantos is an American author of children's books renowned for his portrayal of fictional Joey Pigza, a boy with ADHD. Gantos has won a number of awards, including the Newbery Honor, the Printz Honor, and the Sibert Honor from the American Library Association, and he has been a finalist for the National Book Award. His newest book, The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs (2006), deals with twins, euge...more
More about Jack Gantos...
Dead End in Norvelt Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Joey Pigza, #1) Joey Pigza Loses Control What Would Joey Do? I Am Not Joey Pigza (Joey Pigza Books)

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“Someone once said anyone can be great under rosy circumstances, but the true test of character is measured by how well a person makes decisions during difficult times.” 29 likes
“Since I was trying so hard to make books lead my life, I didn’t want to read them and then just put them back on the shelf and say, “good book,” as if I was patting a good dog. I wanted books to change me, and I wanted to write books that would change others.” 18 likes
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