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.