If you take a look at the book cover, you may wonder why the picture is a barren place riddled with crater-like holes. You may even get to thinking of the relevance of its title to the story since it is a children’s book. You may be imagining a lot of scenarios now.
My first impression of this book was that it had something to do with children up to some mischief, or a fantasy on a boy, lost in an out-of-this-world dimension like the ones in movies I have watched. However, when I was on the first pages, I almost wanted to tear up this book in disbelief. When I was absorbed in the middle part of the story, I fancied hanging a leave-me-alone sign on my door. In effect, I was perched at my table deciphering the idiosyncrasies of the story. Or one time, I seated myself behind the jeepney driver, rigid with terror, catatonic, or apathetic about the existence of the passengers . I did not want to be bothered by any living entities, no matter how striking that entity next to me was. I could be being hypocritical now. The book is beyond my expectation. It came as a surprise to me.
You may find the story terribly weird and wonderful. The main character is a young criminal offender accused of stealing the sneakers my foot; he is incarcerated in a dreary camp , instead of a social welfare institution, where he will dig holes to build characters upon the judge’s suggestion. He, along the other children, looks like inmates in my crime-and punishment imagination . So, such inconceivable scenario smashed my first impression of that it was a book about children playing in a playground. Still, that feeling a twinge of disappointment did not stop me from turning the next pages par for the course. The next scenes became more gripping when the villain turned out to be a woman, and the boy whom the main character considers his close friend turned out to be a savant. Sounds familiar, right?
Another element of the story that held my interest is the way the author weaved the stories from the past and the present together. Reading such stories in different dimensions of time is easy. It does not necessarily take you time to turn over the facts you might find mind-boggling. The pace is smooth as if one sentence is enough to bring a thousand meanings. I even got delighted when I finished each chapter so fast that I was excited to know the next scenes.
The author must have balanced the thrills his reader might feel. He did not need to write the climax in a dragging way causing his readers to be a touch impatient. Instead, that climax leaves his readers stuck along the way and puzzled about the ending, for the main character is unpredictable; his readers may perceive him to be vulnerable, frivolous, and submissive.
I enjoyed the history behind the burning desert in where the camp is located. I was amused by the seller of the onions who believes that his onions are conducive to healthy life for their healing effects on any diseases. It is even funnier than the main character’s great-grandfather’s history behind the curse his families put their misery down to.
The only part I did not like is its ending. I wanted to know more stories that could have left me pleased. It seems like the author must not have wanted to finish it any longer. Having said that, I would give it the highest rating wonderful books should be deserving of.
The book is not only for children but also for everyone. It is replete with moral lessons you might not able to grasp yet because of its oddities. It deals with friendship, fate and freewill, human choice, justice and judgment, power, family, and the natural world.
There are some snippets I highlighted that I will still enjoy chanting and contradicting sotto voce whenever I flip through the pages again :
“It was all because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather!”
Me: We can blame our idealistic miseries on other’s mistake, but we can rectify it.
“When you spend your whole life living in a hole, the only way you can go is up.
Me: It’s up to you if you want to get buried in that hole with your own shit.
“You have only one life, make the most of it”
Me: No need to be bothered if God exists or where the edge of the Universe is. My agnostic best friend might be chuckling to herself now.
“You make the decision: Whom did God punish?”
Me: You punished yourself.
“You’re responsible for yourself. You messed up your life, and it’s up to you to fix it. No one else is going to do it for you — for any of you.”
Me: You are the architect of your life. You are the captain of your ship. My favorite philosophy of life. 🙂
“A lot of people don’t believe in curses.
A lot of people don’t believe in yellow-spotted lizards either, but if one bites you, it doesn’t make a difference whether you believe in it or not.”
Me: It is as obsolete as the saying that experience is the best teacher.
“Nothing in life is easy. But that’s no reason to give up. you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it.”
Me: My lodi once preached in her political career, ” Concentration is the key to success.”
“You may have done some bad things, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad kid.”
Me: You are a bad kid if you think that kid is bad.
At last, after having read some books for the past few months, I read a book that bears a little resemblance to the impact William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Roald Dahl’s Matilda gave to me before – the moment when I almost abandoned myself to the characters , when I burst into a paroxysm of anger or disappointment to the point that I cried bitterly, or when I was convulsed with laughter for gallows humor, or when I had philosophical realization I would muse over for sure. So, this book is one of those books I will always love to talk about with my friends or people with bookish leanings. Indeed, I am a book bore. 🙂
Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It is amazing.)