Becoming a writer the hard way
In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer looking for adventure, cash for college tuition, 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 a ton of hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents caught up with them. For his part in the conspiracy, Gantos was sentenced to serve up to six years in prison.
In Hole in My Life, this prizewinning author of over thirty 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 crazed moment to the next as Gantos pieces together the story of his restless final year of high school, his short-lived career as a criminal, and his time in prison. But running just beneath the action is the story of how Gantos – once he was locked up in a small, yellow-walled cell – moved from wanting to be a writer to writing, and how dedicating himself more fully to the thing he most wanted to do helped him endure and ultimately overcome the worst experience of his life.
Hole in My Life is a 2003 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
""A memoir, by turns harrowing and hilarious, about a huge mistake."" --Miami Herald
""His 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."" --The New York Times Book Review
""Gantos really is Everyman, but an Everyman who has landed himself into a deeper pit than most. What separates Gantos is the determination that took him out of his dreams and into a successful life as a writer. Those writerly skills are in full evidence here, in this thoughtful and provocative memoir as valuable to those who have never heard of Gantos as to those who have read all of his books."" -- Hyde Park Review of Books
""The ultimate cautionary tale."" --Smithsonian
""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."" --Starred, Kirkus Reviews