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Hole in My Life

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  5,933 Ratings  ·  1,079 Reviews
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
Paperback, 200 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Square Fish (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,
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Kelsey Dangelo
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I have learned this: it is not what one does that is wrong, but what one becomes as a consequence of it.” ~Oscar Wilde
“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 time.”
“I was armed with books the way the navy goes to sea armed to the teeth.”

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos (200 pages)

Jack Gantos, author of children’s books, writes his autobiographical account of how, lost and adri
Kate Schwarz
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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 prison 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
Cynthia Egbert
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I really enjoyed this story of a man who is willing to just unflinchingly own his mistakes and foibles. I wish that this biography was utilized more fully in high schools these days. I do understand that it is somewhat dated, but the message is perfect. The idea that one bad decision can alter your course and the lives of others around you but that your life need not continue to follow a negative path but you can choose to make the best of things is powerful. I am grateful for whoever recommende ...more
This is an incredibly enthralling book about Jack Gantos' time in prison for drug smuggling. If you read that sentence you may be turned off but I assure you that this award winning young adult author's "life of crime" was isolated to one time.

In this book, you will learn of the circumstances involved that lead to his crime which were unbelievably incredible. For instance, I had no idea about the "white exodus" in certain areas of Florida due to the Black Panthers taking over certain towns thus
Ryan F
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the book was good it had everything you would need to make a good book. Jack did an amazing job telling the story of his life and didn't leave out a detail. There was the perfect amount of comedy, suspense, action, and horror. When he was in jail I could feel his worry and want to get out. All things considered the book was an awesome work of literature.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: miss welsh
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Very thought-provoking. This would be a great book club selection. Here are some of the things it made me think about:

-The efficacy of the prison system. Gantos was relatively lucky in that he worked in the prison hospital as an x-ray technician, so he learned a valuable skill - but not all prisoners had similar opportunities. It seemed liked Gantos' prison experience (outside of his hospital work) was pretty oppressive and not at all helpful in terms of making positive life changes. He was in p
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Melissa Voss
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this. I went the audiobook route since I was traveling this week and Gantos reads it; fun to hear the personal account straight from the writer. What an incredible journey to find his way to writing children's books. I would definitely use this for a HS recommendation.
I like this book because it it was about someone that had a good education but didn't get to go to college because of his actions.It was a good book because it tell you what the character went throw in jail.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack Gantos writes children's books. Legit children's books. With illustrations and funny words and touching themes. Award winning children's books.

This is not that book. This is the autobiographical account on Gantos's bat-crap crazy life from 1970 - 1973 when he bounces aimlessly around the world, eventually ending up agreeing to pilot a ship full of drugs across the ocean. Oh, and how he ends up going to jail for that.

I love this book because it is absolutely entrancing and accessible for you
Wendy Wakeman
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one had some relevance for the novel I'm writing. Read it for research. It's a very enjoyable read. Gantos writes solid. His story about growing up poor, having to make his own way, and getting caught in a mess of trouble when he runs some hash from St. Croix to New York is really interesting and unusual. I can imagine this would be a great book for a fourteen or fifteen year old boy who finds lots of things dull. Jack Gantos' story isn't dull.
Lisandro Padron
In "Hole in My Life", Jack Gantos is living by himself in Florida trying to write stories. After a while, he decides to move down to St. Croix with his family to be a builder with his dad. When he goes down there, he meets a guy at the dock who asks him of he would like to help him with something. He tells Gantos that if he helps him move 2,000 pounds of hash from St. Croix to New York, he can get $10,000. Gantos, desperate for money to pay for college, accepts and when he gets to New York, he g ...more
This Novel was interesting but didn't catch my eye as I believed it would. I expected a little more excitement on every page. The book was was boring on some scenes and exciting on others. But the is overall very good. It just wasn't really for me but i recommend it still.
Cristian F
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it was a really interesting and really good book. It was interesting and every time you read the book, it just makes you want to read more. The book was action packed and it had a story that you could understand, and the book really told a story unlike other books.
Nelson S
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book because it made you keep reading.Many things were happening at once which is a thing I really like.If you like crime this is a book for you.In the book, he really tries to change himself.I really enjoyed this book and I think you would too if you give it a try
3.5 out of 5
In his memoir Hole in My Life, Jack Gantos looks back on his early adulthood, the darkest time in his life, when a string of bad decisions landed him in federal prison. Although I really liked reading about the author's prison experience, the rest of the book (first three quarters) was rather slow.
Rachel Polacek
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed hearing Gantos's story on how a bad mistake led him to learn more about himself, and make himself more determined than ever. I will be book talking this next school year!
Jacob Williams
Gantos' memoir Hole in My Life can be succinctly boiled down to a proof of the Oscar Wilde quotation printed before the first page of the book. Wilde states,"I have learned this: it is not what one does that is wrong, but what one becomes as a consequence of it."

The memoir recounts Gantos' experiences as he sputters through his final year of high school, stumbles into a drug smuggling job, gets caught, gets incarcerated, and gets out. With this narrative as backdrop,Gantos describes his persona
Mrs. Reed
This is one of those rare books that is on my "in-the-classroom" shelf but not on my "kidbooks" shelf! While Jack Gantos generally writes for children, this book is definitely geared toward an older audience. I picked it up because I had recently read Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key and I know from a shorter memoir that Gantos was kind of a tough customer as a kid (or at least a wannabe), so I was interested to learn more about his life.

The narrative itself is well-written and moderately engaging.
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My book selection 2 4 Apr 24, 2017 11:33AM  
Mrs. Anderson's E...: Hole in my Life 1 4 Mar 10, 2016 05:14PM  
What's The Name o...: true story about smuggling drugs across the sea in a ship? [s] 7 28 Jan 15, 2012 10:25PM  
Imprisonment's Positive Effects 1 13 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, and many other well known characters such as Rotten Ralph, Jack Henry, Jack Gantos (memoirs) and others. Gantos has won a number of awards, including the Newbery, the Newbery Honor, the Scott O'Dell Award, the Printz Honor, and the Sibert Honor from the American Library Associ ...more
More about Jack Gantos...
“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.” 43 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.” 27 likes
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