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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,610 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jack Gantos Narrator: Jack Gantos Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2003 ISBN: 9780807216460
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In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer desperate for adventure, college cash, 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 hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents finally caught up to them in a bust at the Chelsea Hotel. For his part in the conspiracy, the twenty-year-old Gantos was sentenced to serve up to six years in prison.

In Hole in My Life, this acclaimed author of more than 30 books for young people confronts the period of struggle and confinement that marked the end of his own youth. On the surface, the narrative tumbles from one intense moment to the next as Gantos pieces together the story of his restless final year of high school, his short-lived career as a smuggler, and his time in prison. But running just beneath the action is the story of how Gantos—once he found himself locked up in a small, yellow-walled cell—moved from wanting to be a writer to writing, and how this newfound dedication helped him endure the worst experience of his life.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Gantos’s] account is remarkably free of both self-pity and self-censorship…This is a tale of courage and redemption, proving that a bad start in life does not have to lead to a bad life story.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A memoir, by turns harrowing and hilarious, about a huge mistake.”

    Miami Herald

  • “This true tale of the worst year in the author’s life will be a big surprise for his many fans…This is a story of mistakes, dues, redemption, and finally success at what he always wanted to do: write books… Not the usual ‘How I Became a Writer’ treatise, it is an honest, utterly compelling, and life-affirming chronicle of a personal journey for older teens and adults.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A 2003 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book
  • A 2007 Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee
  • Winner of Printz Honors, 2003

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Heather | 2/20/2014

    " I get that sometimes this is the only type of book that you might think you can get a teenager to read, but, seriously, I did not find it intellectually stimulating at all. It seemed that Gantos was maybe trying to get his audience to analyze the idea of misinformed choices? (Which could be important to teenagers.) But I don't see an of them actually "getting that" from this book. As a teacher, I don't think I would recommend this book beyond a reading class where you might just be working on those basic skills. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rhonda | 2/6/2014

    " Currently reading this book to my 5th period during reading break. More descriptive than I expected. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne | 1/11/2014

    " A year in a life told with complete candor and honesty. "Hole in My Life" is sometimes troubling to read, and is completely unexpected from acclaimed children's author, Jack Gantos. A cautionary tale indeed of youth gone awry, this is Gantos' story of poor choices and decisions which ultimately lead to fifteen months in jail for drug running. Fortunately, for young adult readers, redemption and self-regard win the day and the year eventually becomes a blip on the radar of Gantos' successful writing life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Megan Horrocks | 12/29/2013

    " This book was a really interesting read for me. It was strange to see the progression in his thoughts as he committed his crimes and then got caught. Because I read the back of the book, I knew the basic storyline so it was interesting to see the experience of him in high school listening to the past criminals as he laughed at the druggy who got caught. I knew he would eventually get into drugs and get caught as well so it was strange to know that and see that experience through his still innocent eyes. It was horrifying to see his thought processes as he began buying hash and then decided to be a part of Rik's operation. It was like he knew that he wasn't thinking about things, but it didn't matter that he wasn't thinking about things. Seeing that lack of reasoning was a little frightening. His honest portrayal of his own life, his thinking, and the consequences of his actions was interesting to see. It was also terrifying to see the violence he experienced in prison. I cannot imagine going through it and was scary to see it through his somewhat innocent eyes. I didn't love this book, but I did appreciate his complete honesty. It was interesting to see life through his eyes, and although I didn't love it I didn't hate this book either. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 12/3/2013

    " Jack's journey is a difficult on to accompany. I appreciate his narrative and only question his reliability a little. He introduced me to the atrocities of jail and the moral ambiguity of the seventies in a powerful way. I appreciate this narrative because it tells the true story of a man who decided to make it through hell. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca Linton | 11/24/2013

    " Great book for teens. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Valerie | 6/21/2013

    " I'm changing my review to 5 stars. I love this book and the audio. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 LMCS | 5/28/2013

    " A good coming of age story where I found myself rooting for Jack to discover his talents before getting swallowed up by bad life experiences. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 2/23/2013

    " I bought this book for my teenage son. I read it and really thought it was well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maggie | 6/27/2012

    " a summer read book going into 11th grade -- mezza mezza "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doneka | 2/24/2012

    " This is a story of a man who takes way too many wrong turns in life, but finally finds his way. I really enjoyed reading it. It wasn't anything that blew me away, but it did leave me satisfied. I give it an A minus "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joy | 7/31/2011

    " This memoir reminds us that life is a story and we have the power to change the ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gayle | 5/23/2011

    " This autobiography is somewhat interesting, but not compelling. The author's casual attitude towards drugs is appalling. His frankness in describing his life and mistakes is admirable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doneka | 5/5/2011

    " This is a story of a man who takes way too many wrong turns in life, but finally finds his way. I really enjoyed reading it. It wasn't anything that blew me away, but it did leave me satisfied. I give it an A minus "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 elyse | 4/22/2011

    " In 1971 Jack Gantos was caught in New York harbor on a boat filled with 2,000 pounds of hashish. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison. This is the story of how he "escaped" from prison by becoming a writer. Heartbreaking, challenging but ultimately triumphant.
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Malik | 4/8/2011

    " just started reading the book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 4/5/2011

    " Wow, this book was incredible. Too exhauated to write a full review, but man, was this book great. Highly, highly recommended biography. It was endearing, straightforward yet poetic, and scared the beejeezus out of me. "

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About the Author
Author Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages, from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert Honors, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award finalist, and Joey Pigza Loses Control, a Newbery Honor book. He developed the master’s degree program in children’s book writing at Emerson College and the Vermont College MFA program for children’s book writers. He now devotes his time to writing books and educational speaking. He lives with his family in Boston.