A Hole in my Life by Jack Gantos is a memoir of the prolific author’s troubled youth. Jack’s family moved a lot as a child, and just before his senior year of High School they moved to Puerto Rico. Faced with a school system almost entirely in Spanish, Gantos opted instead to work on his dad’s construction site, and saving up enough money to go back to Florida and finish High School. Of course, once away from his family, he lived a very dissolute life, drinking heavily, and treating his host family with disdain. Somehow he had lost his dream and purpose, and was just drifting.
After a stint as a homeless man, he managed to make his way back to his family who were now in St Croix, in the Virgin Islands. The situation in St Croix was not good and white people were being intimidated and scared off the island. In the middle of this Jack got involved with Rick, a drug smuggler. In order to secure the money he wanted to escape St Croix and get to college in the US, Jack agreed to help pilot a boat with 2 tons of Hash to New York City. This escapade ended up with Jack, as a 19 yr old, locked up in prison.
Jack tells his story with candor. He doesn’t hold back about what kind of person he was, and how stupid his decisions were. He’s very honest about the brutality of prison life, and how he got some lucky breaks which saved him from some of the worse horrors. In it all he talks about the power of hope, the power of choosing a different life .
This book resonated well with the detention groups. They have first hand experience with some of the dubious choices Jack made early on. They also know how hard it is to hold out hope for something better, especially after you have screwed up so royally. Jack’s story gave us a platform to talk about the importance of true Hope, using Temperance and Prudence, and why Justice is necessary for life.