Jonathan Peto's Reviews > Hole in My Life

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
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really liked it
bookshelves: biography-memoir, nonfiction, about-writing, ya

This had more bite than I expected. Not at first, but eventually, which is a good thing.

After an initial chapter that frames the book as a story about “mistakes and redemption”, the narrative starts during Jack’s last years of high school. Written for teens, the telling is lively, straightforward, and entertaining. He does not preach, hold back, or draw simplistic conclusions.

Eventually he’s out of high school and one thing leads to another. Part Two describes the crime, which is a simultaneously mundane and tense boat ride from the Virgin Islands to New York City. All the while his big dream is to be a writer, and he reads a lot.

When he is caught and convicted in Part Three, the text is more reflective and heavy but never dull. The threat of violence in prison is scary. The text does not go there explicitly, but it feels like it could have been so easy for Jack Gantos to not get through the experience of prison and succeed later. He did not blame anyone else, including the smugglers he worked with, but some of the people in the system felt unreasonably vindictive at times, frighteningly fickle. Since then, Jack is always smartly dressed in suits in photos and, I think, in person. I remember finding that somewhat perplexing before, as with Tom Wolfe. Now I wonder if Jack’s sartorial choices relate to his imprisonment and a need to exert control. In a Q and A section with Matt de la Pena at the end, he describes a disciplined writing routine and lifestyle that certainly seems... punitive?
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Reading Progress

January 2, 2019 – Started Reading
January 2, 2019 – Shelved
January 4, 2019 – Shelved as: biography-memoir
January 4, 2019 – Shelved as: nonfiction
January 4, 2019 – Shelved as: about-writing
January 4, 2019 – Shelved as: ya
January 4, 2019 – Finished Reading

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