Dear Mr. Sachar,
My name is Shaquille and I am currently in high school, in Iowa. I truly enjoyed reading your book Holes. Your book inspired me to never give up on life and to not blame myself for life’s misfortunes. On the tenth anniversary of your book, I want to thank you for saving my life and helping me see that my life is worth living.
When I was a young boy, I did not act appropriately during school. I got into trouble quite often in my classroom and caused a lot of problems. I had horrible manners and a smart mouth. Teachers at school thought that I would never amount of anything and so did a few of my classmates. Things were not looking very positive or optimistic for me. Many thought I was bound for the juvenile correction facility.
At the beginning of third grade, my mother had a baby boy, and I was so happy because I finally had a baby brother. His name was Cordell. A couple of months after my new brother were born; my mother went to work and asked me if I could watch him while she was gone. Cordell and I were watching television and he fell asleep, so I placed him in his crib. My mother arrived back from her job and asked me where Cordell was.
I told her he was sleeping in his crib, and she went to check on him. Suddenly, she started to scream and shout. Tears ran down her eyes. I had no idea why she was acting this way. She screamed at me to go and get the phone, and she called 911. My mother and brother went to the hospital and took me to the neighbors; I did not see my mother until the next day. I was frightened.
I was told by my mother that Cordell had died in his sleep. Being young and scared, I thought it was my fault that my brother had died. My mother tried to tell me otherwise, but I would not listen to her. I did not go to school for about a month, and when I returned, I was acting immature again and was having trouble concentrating in my classes. I felt the lowest I had every felt in my life.
It was at this sad time of my life when I read your book Holes for a class assignment. When I finished the book, I immediately became a different person. I started to focus more on my schoolwork and began the process of forgiving myself. The novel taught me that now matter how bad things get, there will always be a better days to come. When Kissin Kate Barlow says, "I've been wishing I was dead for a long time", it made me feel like I was a part of the book. I connected with Ms. Barlow because I too wished that I was dead, that it should have been me that was dead instead of my brother. After Kissin Kate lost Sam, she probably felt as bad as I did when I lost Cordell, but she did not have a book to reassure her like Holes has inspired me.
I was told by my mother that Cordell had SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome) when he was born and that was the cause of his death. Learning that I was not responsible lifted a huge burden off of my shoulders. Everyday I imagine what life would be like if Cordell were still around. I even dream about him sometimes in my sleep. Most of the time my dreams are about how we used to play together. I liked your book so much. I healed and knew I was not to blame for my brother's unfortunate death.
Once again, I greatly appreciate your inspirational book. Your insight into justice and honesty helped me become a better young man and triumph over the adversity of my life. I am proud of my accomplishments in school and have become a model student. Holes helped me believe that my brother's death was not my fault. For that, I am grateful.