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

The Goats

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,042 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
The boy and the girl are stripped and marooned on a small island for the night. They are the "goats." The kids at camp think it is a great joke; it's an old tradition. No harm is intended, but the goats don't see it that way. They want to disappear. To disappear completely. And they do, much to everyone's surprise.
Paperback, 184 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published April 1st 1987)
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 Goats, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Logan I think it was because the main characters are stripped naked in the beginning, and on one page, the boy describes the girl's body and pubic hair.…moreI think it was because the main characters are stripped naked in the beginning, and on one page, the boy describes the girl's body and pubic hair. Personally it sounds harmless, so if there were any other reasons, I don't remember.(less)
Chelsea Elizabeth I think this book is a great read, it explains human interaction with each other and gives a great description on how teens feel. I read this book in…moreI think this book is a great read, it explains human interaction with each other and gives a great description on how teens feel. I read this book in my ninth grade year, and found nothing inappropriate in it. I don't think that younger kids should read this book by themselves, because it might bring questions they'll be to nervous to ask, but I think it would be great for a class reading. (less)
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
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: why-yes-i-ya
teen survival?? kids trying to get out of the woods after a practical joke goes wrong?? or "goes according to plan but sucks, for them"?? sign me up!!i saw this when i was volunteering my time at the library, and instead of taking it out like a normal person, i just ordered it into the store and bought it. good for the store, bad for the library. and then i get home to this desperate email from the queens library system that says because there have been more budget cuts, they can't order any new ...more
I read this book primarily because it has been one of the most challenged books in American libraries, and I'm always interested in reading challenged and banned books. The Goats tells the story of two teens, referred to mainly as "the boy" and "the girl" through most of the book, who are the victims of a cruel and humiliating camp prank. They are stripped and left for the night on a small island, a camp tradition that involves choosing two "goats." In a courageous move, however, they choose to ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Look at the different covers. Depending on how you read it, where you are in your life, what your expectations are, this can fit any of them. It's an adventure about two kids on their own. It's a companion to Lord of the Flies. It's poetically written *L*iterature with a quest and grand metaphysical themes. You choose.

Though I actually read the one with just the uninhabited lake shore, I'm recording the blue and pink, with Laura in the pink shirt and Howie sitting on the ground. To me, the chara
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This remains one of the most beautiful stories of the first flush of love, and the first tingle of sex, that I have ever read.

I think the trick to writing juvenile fiction is knowing your audience: the kids who read at this age are the kids who get to be the stars of books like this--dorks.
Kevin Hughes
This is a story about a boy and a girl that are treated very cruelly at a summer camp and decide to disappear together. It has a adolescent alienation / Thoreau vibe as they try to scrape together food and shelter. I've got a real soft spot for minimalism and survivalism, so I enjoyed following their decisions and seeing how things went.

Yes, as you will read in the other reviews, in the beginning their clothes are stolen and they are marooned on an island together, naked. Sure to hook the adoles
Nathan M.
Feb 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"The Goats" was not what I was expecting. Based on the small synopsis on the back I assumed it would be a survival story about teens in the realm of "Lord of the Flies" and "Treasure Island", with a little bit of "Battle Royale" thrown in. Shame on my own mind for that, as it wasn't even close.

"The Goats" is a quick, boring, dated story about 2 hapless-loser type kids marooned on an island at summer camp by bullies. In some sort of coming-of-age ritual a boy and girl are stripped of their clothi
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
If you've ever dreamed of just walking away from everything, all the adults telling you what to do, all the rules and convoluted, unspoken expectations from fellow schoolmates, this story is for you. A cruel "camp tradition" strands a girl and boy on a deserted island, where they are supposed to cower and shiver through the night and laugh it off the next day when they are rescued. But instead they take off, wandering through woods and breaking into summer cabins to find food and clothing.
Of cou
Trixie Fontaine
When I put this on my want-to-read list I didn't realize it was written in the 80's, but it made more sense when I understood that; I was really expecting something different (but this was better). I didn't start to love the book until two-thirds of the way in, and then I suddenly was: in love.

I appreciated the way the book just jumped in and WENT and didn't mess around with transitions. I loved the period stuff, and I always love stories that are about going somewhere but not knowing where exce
Jul 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teens
Two summer camp outcasts are stranded naked on an island for an overnight prank. They decide not to return to the camp and make off on their own. Written in the mid-to-late 80s, this book feels a little old school in a good way, like Hatchet or whatnot.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know how there are always a couple of kids at camp (or school) who just don't fit in? Well, the two kids in this book who fit that bill are subjected to a cruel prank that's a tradition at their camp: they are labelled "goats" and left naked out on an island in the middle of a lake. But these kids don't cry and moan and wait for the repercussions after the kids who abandoned them come back and torture them for the rest of the summer. Instead they escape.

I loved the message of this story wher
Dayna Smith
This is a disturbing, yet tender, tale of two outsiders who learn to trust each other and in turn discover themselves. At the summer camp from hell two teens, a boy and a girl, are the victims of a cruel "prank". They are designated "goats" by the other campers and tricked into a trip to an island in the middle of a lake. They are stripped of their clothes and left there; the intent is that the others will come back later and spy on them and gloat over their misery and fear. The two manage to es ...more
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Throughout this stunning story about the self-redemption of two picked-on teenagers, Cole plays with psychic distance to emphasize perceptions of the main characters. For example, Cole refers to them as “the boy” and “the girl” throughout most of the book. He doesn’t indicate their first names, Laura and Howie, until page 16—the second to last page—of the first chapter. In the last two paragraphs of the book, Cole uses their names in direct action: “Howie looked up.” And, the last sentence, “‘Ho ...more
Sep 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fiction, heavy
This story follows two kids (about 12 and 13) as they run away from summer camp. The boy and girl were chosen to play a mean prank on and they decided they didn't want to go back. The story starts at the prank and ends a couple of days later after they survive on candy bars and some petty theft.

I enjoyed this book because it was told from the very socially awkward children's point-of-view. These aren't kids that just don't fit in. They lack social skills, but they are able to relate to each othe
May 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-and-ya
I remember it being one of those very strange books you happen upon at the age of 10-12. A YA book that discusses things you aren't totally sure about.
Rebecca McNutt
This book of survival, friendship, loyalty and bravery is both emotional and gripping, and very well-written.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Alright so this was another book that wasn't on the website but Im going t write about it. This was a book I was reading for children's lit so it was forced upon me sort of. It was a book for young kids learning to read and it was an old one. I thought it was good and a very east read because of the simple style of writing but for kids it could be really good. As an adult the book was still cool, each chapter was a different adventure for these friends and it made me remember my childhood. Very ...more
Susan Chapek
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed and admired this book so much that I used it for a weird but powerful writing exercise I learned from the brilliant editor Donna Brooks.

Donna suggested copying a whole novel, word for word, to get a visceral experience of how and why you admire it and how and why it was built. The novel usually recommended for this exercise is Madame Bovary, but I chose this one, because I was trying to learn how to write for YA, and I was able to appreciate via slow sips a lot of thematic and structu
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, ya-lit
soft weeping about brave loyal ruthless children with smudged glasses: the novel
Dec 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started reading The Goats, by Brock Cole, I kept thinking "Wow, this reminds me a lot of the YA fiction stuff I read when I was a kid." Eventually, I checked the publication date, and, sure enough, it was published in 1987. The premise: A boy and a girl, both 13, end up being ditched on a small island, with no clothes or food, by their co-campers as part of a traditional camp prank. Embarrassed, afraid, and lonely, the two kids decide to try to escape from the island, rather than wait for ...more
Feb 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cole, B. (1987). The Goats. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux


When campers do a mean prank to two outsider thirteen-year-olds by stranding them naked on an island, the bullied boy and girl decide to escape the island and not return to the camp. The journey that follows feels like a Gary Paulsen book set a few miles closer to civilization.

More than anything the boy and the girl (as they are referred to throughout most of the book) seem to desire control over their lives and respect
Aug 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
My coworker is the one who buys all the YA books for our library. Every few weeks she emails me a list of new YA I might like. In return I give her my reviews. The Goats is one of the books she suggested. I actually picked it off of my library book pile because a) it was so much shorter than all the other books, and b) it had an intriguing cover. I went in not knowing anything about it except there was an island and a few stranded kids. I expected it to be like Lord of the Flies

The first thing I
“Survival on the Fringe of Society”

Wow—this book really packs a social punch in the days of pre-cyber bullying; it engages the reader’s sympathy for the two misfits instantly. A Boy and a Girl at summer camp are targeted for peer
punishment in the form of a cruel joke; they are abandoned on an island with no food, money or clothing—left to fiend for themselves to get back to civilization and/or their camp of caring counselors. But these two scapegoats who did not even know each other pool thei
Jul 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-reviewed
When a boy and girl are isolated during a prank at a summer camp, they turn the tables on everyone by disappearing. Marooned on a small island, stripped of all clothes and money, they embark on a journey that leads them far away from the small town where their camp is located, and discover that perhaps, being labeled a "goat" could be the very thing that led them to discover themselves. By breaking into summer cottages and playing off of the kindness of strangers, they not only survive, but seem ...more
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a general rule, I try not to watch the movie before I've read the book. Standing Up, the 2013 movie based on this book published in 1987, was an exception to that rule. My sister told me how great the movie was, so I watched it. And guys, the movie is amazing. I kind of can't rave about it enough. Which is why reading the book (and now reviewing the book) was so weird. But let's get to it.

The Goats follows a boy and a girl, campers (I think 12 yrs old) who are stranded naked on "Goat Island"
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile, challenged
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Goats by Brock Cole was an entertaining book to read. It doesn’t use a lot of challenging vocabulary and it doesn’t take that long to read through. Although, while reading through the book it may seem like a child’s book, it has a deeper meaning. The book takes the perspective of this young boy and his journey of being a “goat”. The goat is a kid that doesn’t really connect with the rest of the group, so is stripped down and put on an island with another “goat” of the opposite sex. What star ...more
This book is possibly the cutest story I have ever read. The two main characters really pull you into their world and minds and you sympathize with them greatly. You want to protect them from the cruelties that they had to endure and from the penalties of making such mistakes. You are so invested in the story you feel like a third character in the book. You want to pour out your heart to these two in return for them pouring their hearts out to you. The boy and the girl grow more than any other c ...more
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been waiting all day to revise my thin attempt at a review. Also, it feels good to escape the madness that is my family and write... So...

I really liked this book. It was amazing, and you find yourself in love with Howie and Laura by the end of the book -- you just can't help it.

In writing style very similar to Bridge to Terabithia, Brock Cole teaches us what it means to be human by showing us what it's like to be a goat.

This book deals with what happens when you hurt another person. One p
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Your parents always tell you that camp is going to be fun, but what if you are a nerdy type and the chosen one to be the goat? Could you be stripped down naked like an animal and be left in the woods for the mosquitoes? Imagine yourself cold, scared and upset that your parents made you come to camp. You have just experienced the horrible feelings a goat is feeling.
The main characters in the book are, Laura Golden and Howie Mitchell, and in this book they are at a summer camp in present day ti
« 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 »
  • Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat
  • The Arizona Kid
  • Halloween ABC
  • The Drowning of Stephan Jones
  • Go and Come Back
  • Sex Education
  • Family Secrets
  • Jump Ship to Freedom
  • Guess What?
  • Running Loose
  • We All Fall Down
  • Daddy's Roommate
  • Crazy Lady!
  • Detour for Emmy
  • The Truth about Truman School
  • Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-deliverance & Assisted Suicide for the Dying
  • Toning The Sweep
  • Bushman Lives!
Brock Cole was born a year before the Second World War in a small town in Michigan. Because of his father's work, his family moved frequently, but he never regarded these relocations as a hardship.

"I thought of myself as something of an explorer, even though my explorations never took me very far. I had a deep and intimate acquaintance with woodlots, creeks, lakes, back streets, and alleys all ove
More about Brock Cole...

Share This Book

“I didn't mean it' he said again. She tried to smile, but had to sniff instead. Her face was wet, and her nose was running. He thought she looked beautiful.” 4 likes
“A stump loomed in front of them, splitting the path. They drifted apart, their clasped hands rising as it came between them.

"Hold on, " Laura said. "Hold on.”
More quotes…