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

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,174 ratings  ·  159 reviews
Fifteenth anniversary of the classic

On the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of The Goats, Farrar, Straus and Giroux is proud to reissue a new paperback edition featuring Brock Cole’s original hardcover jacket art as well as the black-and-white pen-and-ink chapter openings.

A boy and a girl are stripped and marooned on a small island for the night. They are the
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 1st 1990 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,174 ratings  ·  159 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Goats
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Nathan Mayer
Feb 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
"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
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
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
Jul 07, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Rebecca McNutt
This book of survival, friendship, loyalty and bravery is both emotional and gripping, and very well-written.
Isa Lavinia
Oh, God, I need somebody to take care of me!

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
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 ...more
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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, “‘ ...more
Sep 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: heavy, fiction, ya
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
May 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Danziah Bennett
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1
The Goats,by Brock Cole is a book about a young boy and girl who are going to the same camp but when they came on their first day,a couple of kids puled a park on them by chasing them and removing their clothing and leaving them alone in the cold,dark in the woods completely naked.By them dealing with being on their own they learn to trust each other,find a way to find food,clothing and they can survive.While everything is happening the Girl's mom has been informed on what happened and ...more
Thomas Marchesseault
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A girl named Laura and a boy named Howie are stripped of there clothes and possessions on a small island. This was a tradition that this camp did. The boy and girl didn't like this so with a help of a log the get off the island and dispensary in the nearby towns. Hiding from everyone, especially the police. The boy and girl steal clothes and small amounts of money for basic survival. Laura's mom is informed of her disappearance and try to find them. I recommend this book to people who like ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
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
Doug Wilhelm
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love The Goats! It's a classic that should be better-known, about two lonely kids who become the designated outcasts at their summer camp, chosen for a cruel humiliation that's a secret camp tradition. But the boy and girl do not accept what the other campers try to do to them -- and the adventure they go on instead has stayed with me in an indelible way. When I first started to think about writing realistic middle-grade fiction, I happened on this book, and it showed me what might be possible ...more
Banned or challenged book.

Reason: Challenged for describing the rescue of a naked girl and for offensive and inappropriate language for seventh graders.

I thought this was a great story.

Definitely not what I expected, but for me, created a strong emotional attachment to the kids.

I don’t agree with this book being banned or challenged. Perhaps the author could just scratch out a word or two.

Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
The Goats by Brock Cole was was about two “outcast” children coming together after a horrible prank done onto them. They wanted to “disappear” completely, however, after going through obstacles they saw their strength. The ending was dull to me because I wanted to know what happened after Laura’s mom found them, but I guess the ending is up to different interpretations.
Adrianne Rosal
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mixed emotions about this one. Enjoyed but also sad that these two young people had to go through what they did.
Mark Schmidt
Nov 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
I hated reading this in school. One of the only books I've started reading and had to abandon halfway through because it was so bad. Utter voyeuristic trash.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Running Loose
  • Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore, #1)
  • Mara, Daughter of the Nile
  • Castle
  • The Shape of My Name
  • King & King
  • Stronger: A Super Human Clash (The New Heroes/Quantum Prophecy, #6)
  • Peter
  • The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society
  • King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian
  • The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
  • Monsterblood Tattoo #2: LAMPLIGHTER
  • Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, #1)
  • Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
  • The Bear
  • STET
  • The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (Danielle Cain, #1)
See similar books…
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
“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…