Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Hole We're In” as Want to Read:
The Hole We're In
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Hole We're In

3.17  ·  Rating Details ·  810 Ratings  ·  199 Reviews
With "The Hole We're In"--a bold, timeless, yet all too timely novel about a troubled American family navigating an even more troubled America--award-winning author and screenwriter, Gabrielle Zevin, delivers a work that places her in the ranks of our shrewdest social observers and top literary talents. Meet the Pomeroys: a church-going family living in a too-red house in ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Hole We're In, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Hole We're In

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Carol Brandt
This book was a downer with no relief. The characters were not likable and never were able to get themselves out of any of the holes they were in. A stark, pessimistic view of life with no silver lining. Not a beach read. More like a book to get you in the mood to cut yourself.
Mar 15, 2010 Lexi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Impossible to put down. Fantastically well-done look at the varied holes we climb in, climb out of, dig for ourselves, and find ourselves in. This searing family-disfunction/credit-based-society-critique/study of religious fundamentalism left the earth pretty scorched, but breathing, bleeding believable characters kept me turning pages as fast as I could read.
Roger, trying to finish his PhD, leaves his wife Georgia to take care of family finances while he focuses on his dissertation- which he h
It took me ages, since release (I pre-ordered it)till now to read this. And so it seems the world ends today May 21st, 2011 (later in the day I guess, and maybe it is a time zone thing). Good timing to be reading a book about fundamentalist Adventist Christians. Solipsism FTW.

The reason it took me those ages to read this might be because frankly, the blurb and reviews make it sound like a downer. I need to be in the right mood to want to tackle potentially devastating novels, AND often novels ab
Jan 27, 2011 Annie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I think Gabrielle is a great writer and there was a great story in this book populated with compelling characters; I just wish it wasn’t buried underneath the multitude of curse words on the pages. This book was enthralling but a real downer of a story. It is about the Pomeroy family, Roger, the father and a fanatical seventh day adventist, George his long-suffering wife, Victor, the outcast son because he went to Yale and not a religious college, Helen, a daughter with mountains of credit card ...more
The story of a fundamentalist Christian family in which half the members seem to be like Nikki in Big Love--unable to stop shopping or admit to their credit card debt--was surprisingly painful to read. Surprisingly painful because none of the characters were likable, and the family situation was so fraught and tense.

Nevertheless, read it I did because, well, I had to see how it would end. Lamely, as it turns out. The first quarter is by far the best; after that, the author moves forward in six y
Kasa Cotugno
May 18, 2010 Kasa Cotugno rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than average drama focussing on issues of today and how they impact one family. Difference between this and most books of this type, at least for me, is that the family is fundamental Christian, employing the restrictions imposed by the church. But this does not take away the outside influences affecting everyone these days. The father's decision to complete his education at the age of 42 forces the entire family to uproot from Tennessee to Texas, plunging them deeper and deeper into debt ...more
John Woodward
May 18, 2012 John Woodward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of contemporary fiction
Recommended to John by: Found it at a clearance
This is a book about a family that disintegrates, not because of the members' hedonism, but from their idealism. (Intolerance and bigotry are ideals to those who practice them.) Money and respectability are the main concerns of the parents, and every character must come to terms with these needs. People make choices, and oftentimes are disappointed in themselves afterwards -- but are still stuck with the consequences of those choices. Most of the book takes place in there here-and-now, but the l ...more
Jan 05, 2013 Vicki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time reading this book because I hated all the characters, in particular the parents. It was very bizarre how no one spoke to each other about anything of importance, just hid everything and it seemed like the parents had zero emotional connections to their own children. I did like the last chapter, I hope that turns out not to be our future!
Roni Ramone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 30, 2012 Judith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I never get tired of variations on "terrible parenting" stories. You think you had it bad? The mother in this story maxes out her credit cards and then applies for credit cards in her adult son's name when the offers appear in the mail. Using his identity, she maxes out credit cards in his name too, practically destroying his credit. The dad, a hypocritical holy roller, denies his youngest daughter her rightful inheritance (from the grandmother) because she refuses to go to a church college. Sin
I must respectfully disagree with the above synopsis by Good Reads as must have obviously been written by the publisher. The only point I would agree with is the “flawed and at times infuriating” although I would say ALWAYS infuriating. There is nothing at all to like about the parents in this family nor do I consider them “relatable”. What I would say is that if you are looking for the “poster” parents for some of the world's worst parents, here is your couple. The husband is a narcissistic idi ...more
Jul 07, 2012 Nicola rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, bought-used
The Hole We’re In could more accurately be titled People Making Bad Decisions. And, indeed, for the first half of the novel, it’s queasily compelling to read about Gabrielle Zevin’s “typical Middle American family” as they lie to each other and rack up a crushing amount of debt.

However, Hole begins to unravel around the halfway mark. Story threads are introduced and never developed. (In some cases, story conclusions are deliberately obfuscated and I think Zevin thinks she’s being literary when s
Sep 08, 2010 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is very readable. It follows a mostly unpleasant family, ultimately focusing on one daughter who we see over about 20 years. I enjoyed many parts of the story and some of the characters. There was one weird thing though. Right near the end of the book, a character's 15 year old daughter is getting an abortion, her mom arranges it and goes with her. This takes place in the Eastern US in modern times (the mom served time in Iraq). The book is not an alternative history or anything, it's quite ...more
Oct 05, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The shift from 'frenetic train wreck' to 'melancholic unfolding' in the first to second halves saved this book from itself. As sharply written as the first half was, it had the flavor of a satirical one-liner. To have carried it any farther would have been exhausting but not illuminating.

As it was, the more wistful and multi-textured second half caused me to reflect on how much of the horrific parents' evil antics might have stemmed from having had children before they were grown-ups themselves.
Nov 02, 2016 Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One reviewer contends that this novel has people who cannot be admired, but can be loved. That assessment seems too strong. Everyone in and involved with the Pomeroy family makes poor, self-centered decisions that bring on ruin and alienation, leaving scant room for empathy. Even those who suffer from the poor decisions of others (Roger Pomeroy's prominently) elicit only moderate sympathy as they compound their problems with poor judgment. For the most part the author's skewering of religion and ...more
Mar 23, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked how quickly the story moved along, never bogging down in details, but sharply revealing more and more of each character's motivation and insecurities with the passage of time. The treatment of abortion in the future was a bit on the nose. This is a sad, sad, story of pride and selfishness and I couldn't put it down because at first, I related to the characters. In the end, not so much, but by then, I loved them, or felt I knew them at least. On the surface it is a cautionary tale about s ...more
Mar 12, 2011 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took this book out of my mailbox this morning, and finished it this evening. It's that compelling. It's about family, hypocrisy, debt, appearances, secrets, love, shame, and holes. Not all of the characters are likeable, but all of them (and their trajectories) are certainly true to life. I will certainly be thinking about this book for a while.
This is a really interesting book, really more of a social satire. A pretty damning look at the dark side of evangelical, debt-ridden, and greedy American culture. All of the characters are both truly awful while also very compelling.
Feb 13, 2015 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars... I really enjoyed this book for book was an easy read that I couldn't put down. Am looking forward to discussing it in book club!
Apr 21, 2015 Shetal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read via Audible. Great read overall. Excellent book for book club, especially for discussing themes of excessive religiosity and its impact on family upbringing.
I want to note how difficult it is to write a bad review about one of your most favorite authors. I love her work, her interviews, her blog, her Facebook posts, she's just an interesting person. Most of her stories fall into the realm of favorite books ever, for me. This though..

I feel like 3-stars is extremely generous of a rating. This book had a decent first half buildup and then fell flat on its face with a disappointing lack of character or plot "development".

The timeline is wonky, often ju
Great book. I enjoyed it a lot. I am a huge Zevin fan -- I adore ELSEWHERE, and I'd rank it up with my favourite Young Adult novels. MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC was a blip in my opinion, but, God, Zevin has such raw talent for both writing and crafting a story that I just block that out.

Good stuff? The characters were extremely compelling. Roger was one of the most unsympathetic assholes ever to get into print (outside of psychopaths/serial killers), but he was incredibly human and fascinating
Kay Carman
I chose this book for two reasons - 1) I loved Zevin's yong adult novel, Elsewhere, and 2) the review mentioned a religious aspect. In the Publishers Weekly" review, it said, "...she [Zevin] gives readers terrific insights into the problems of adult children removing themselves from the influence of parents and establishes herself as an astute chronicler of the way we spend now..."

Roger and Georgia Pomeroy are at odds with who they purport and appear to be. Roger is iexperiencing a mid-life cris
I adored The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, so I wanted to read something else by Gabrielle Zevin. In some ways The Hole We're In reminded me of A.J. Fikry: Zevin's easy to read style, the way time slows or speeds during parts of the novel. In other ways, the two couldn't be more different: setting, characters, tone.

The Hole We're In tells the story of the Pomeroy family. Pastor Dad decides at age forty to return to school for his PhD. Mother George works temp jobs to support the family whilst dad
Nov 26, 2013 Anita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly have enjoyed every Gabrielle Zevin book I have read, this one included due to her insights into human nature in her writing. The novel concerns itself with the middle class American Pomeroy family who hide a secret that they are drowning in debt. The theme of materialism became strikingly evident early on in the novel. The book is part family drama, because it shifts from present day to the past and between characters, and part moral tale not to fall into materialistic culture.
The urge
Feb 23, 2010 edh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
The decisions we make to pursue or maintain an image affect our entire lives, and the lives of our children. Sure, it's a quick way to describe Zevin's new book but the devil sure is in the details... in the late 90s, Pomeroy family scion Roger leaves a comfortable school admin position to go back to college, where he swiftly loses his appetite for learning and begins an affair with his major professor. Wife Georgia is stricken by oldest daughter Helen's demands for a lavish wedding, mounting cr ...more
Jun 27, 2010 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2010
Gabrielle Zevin's "The Hole We're In" was not what I expected. I stopped what I was doing in order to spend an hour and a half finishing the novel after getting through almost 65 pages in the waiting room of my doctor's office; the book will definitely grab you, draw you in, and won't let you go until the last page is turned.

"The Hole We're In" follows the Pomeroy family over approximately 25 years. The book starts out with Georgia (George) Pomeroy getting credit cards in the names of two of he
Larry Buhl
Jan 17, 2011 Larry Buhl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's about how the (financial) sins of our fathers (and mothers)are visited (unequally) on the children. This book covers about three decades (the last one in the future) of the Pomeroy family. Both elder Pomeroys are spectacularly bad parents. There are no physical beatings. But the mother screws two of her siblings in order to pay for the hilariously over-the-top wedding of one daughter. And the father, a holier-than-thou evangelical Christian school administrator-turned-pastor casts out one d ...more
Mar 31, 2010 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would modern literature by without dysfunctional families? Gabrielle Zevin introduces us to the Pomeroys, and they rock the Richter scale when it comes to being absolutely, totally screwed up.

First, there’s good old dad, Roger – a fundamental Christian hypocrite who breaks half the Commandments after “praying on it.” Then there’s mom, Georgia, a disengaged narcissist who sacrifices her own adult children to deal with her crippling debt. And then there’s Vinnie, Helen, and Patsy. The focus i
Although it has some flaws, The Hole We're In is one of the most engrossing books I've read in awhile. Although a novel, it is a biting social commentary on the "holes" that are dug for us by our parents and that we dig for ourselves in modern society. Roger, the patriarch of the family, indulges his mid-life fantasy to see "what might have been." He leaves his job as an assistant principal at a fundamentalist Christian school and uproots his family to Texas so that he can pursue a doctorate whi ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq
  • Postcards from a Dead Girl
  • The Human Bobby: A Novel
  • Going Away Shoes
  • A History of the World Since 9/11: Disaster, Deception, and Destruction in the War on Terror
  • Secret Graces
  • Try to Remember
  • Beaming Sonny Home
  • See What I See
  • After the Workshop: A Novel
  • Little Miss Strange: A Novel
  • Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk
  • Another Life Altogether
  • Nine Months
  • Welcome to Utopia: Notes from a Small Town
  • Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife
  • Forever Changes
  • I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams
Gabrielle Zevin is the New York Times Best Selling author of eight novels. For adults: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (2014), The Hole We’re In (2010), and Margarettown (2005). For young adults: Elsewhere (2005), Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (2007), and the three books in the Anya Balanchine series, All These Things I’ve Done (2011), Because It Is My Blood (2012), and In the Age of Love and Choco ...more
More about Gabrielle Zevin...

Share This Book

“It is lucky, she thinks, that we don’t feel all the love inside us every moment. We couldn’t breathe or walk or eat. It is lucky that it just flares up every now and again then resolves itself into a manageable dormancy.” 2 likes
“You spend your whole life trying to get out of holes. The hole you’re born into because of who your parents are. The hole you dig yourself trying to get out of that first hole. The hole your children are born into is the saddest hole of all. It occurs to her that she has spent most of her life digging herself out of or into one hole or another. And then, in the end, they just lower you into the ground anyway. She whispers a question, kind of like a prayer, if she were the praying sort, to no one in particular, “How in the world do you ever get out?” 2 likes
More quotes…