Sunday, November 21, 2010

SLIS 5420 - Module 12 - A Hole in My Life

Module 12 A Hole in My Life - Jack Gantos

Gantos, Jack. A Hole in My Life. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. ISBN: 0-374-39988-3

Writer Jack Gantos tells the story about how he wound up in prison for smuggling drugs and how he learned to become a writer in the process.

What I Thought
This story of Gantos' life resonated with me. Gantos wanted to be a writer but felt he had nothing to say. As he takes a journey to smuggle drugs (his ticket off the racially divided island of St. Croix), he is really embarking on a journey where he confronts himself. One of my favorite parts of the story is where he is in his jail cell and finds the words "WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE" scratched above the mirror. Gantos comments on this saying, "Some wit had carved it into the cinder block so that each time he looked in the mirror he reminded himself that the biggest failure is self-communication," (p.158). Gantos felt that he hadn't been honest with himself and when he finally was, he was able to write.

As Gantos deals with himself honestly, he starts to find his voice as a writer. This self-examination is very important for everyone, especially young people. Finding yourself by exploring who you are is essential. Without good self-communication young people may find the wrong mates, wrong jobs and not find their perfect fit.

Outside Reviews
"In this dual-layered memoir for high schoolers, Newbery Honor-winner Gantos details his short-lived criminal career as well as his transition from wannabe writer to serious author. Twenty years old and desperately seeking money for college, he recklessly agreed to sail a boat full of hashish from St. Croix to New York City. He explains: "This was the jackpot. The answer I was looking for...I didn't think of the danger involved with breaking the law.: But he was caught and send to a federal prison. As a teen, Gantos always knew he'd be a writer, but he never knew what to write about or how to start. During his 18-month incarceration, however, he learned to look within himself for material. Gantos' hope is to inspire, not scare, teens, but he relies on blunt prose throughout, including grisly descriptions of jailhouse violence. The result: a humorous, frightening, heartbreaking, and above all, honest introduction to the world of nonfiction."
Rodman, B., & Pricola, J. (2002). HOLE IN MY LIFE (Book). Teacher Magazine, 13(7), 50. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

"The autobiographical account of the author's search for his magical muse is thwarted by a get-rich-quick scheme of pirating a ship of pot up the coast. Gantos takes his consequence in the dregs of prison and reinvents a plan to spring free his intellectual aspirations. This candid, vivid, and illuminating page-turner emphasizes the salvation of journaling while showing how smart choices can right wrongs. Audio version available from Listening Library."

Follos, A. (2004). Hole in My Life (Book). School Library Journal, 50(11), 67. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Using this Book in the Library
This story is great to expose to young adults who are all in the process of finding themselves and learning about the consequences of their actions. This book would make an excellent book-club discussion pick.

For Fun
Visit Jack Gantos' website. The site is designed mostly for children, however, it's interesting to see Gantos today, knowing what he went through as a teen.

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