Small Steps by Louis Sachar
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date: January 2006
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Two years after being released from Camp Green Lake, Armpit is home in Austin, Texas, trying to turn his life around. But it’s hard when you have a record, and everyone expects the worst from you. The only person who believes in him is Ginny, his 10-year old disabled neighbor. Together, they are learning to take small steps. And he seems to be on the right path, until X-Ray, a buddy from Camp Green Lake, comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme. This leads to a chance encounter with teen pop sensation, Kaira DeLeon, and suddenly his life spins out of control, with only one thing for certain. He’ll never be the same again.
Some people have referred to Small Steps as a sequel to the Newbery Medal- and National Book Award-winning novel Holes, but it isn't, at least not in the way I define the term. I would describe it as a companion to Holes, since it doesn't continue the narrative from the earlier novel but does feature two of its peripheral players. The reason I bring it up is that if you read Small Steps expecting it to be a sequel to Holes, you may come away disappointed, which would be a pity because Small Steps is a good book that deserves to be judged on its own merits. The real strength of the book comes from its characters. Sachar does a good job expanding on Armpit and X-Ray's personalities, and the new characters, Ginny and Kaira, are likewise well-drawn. The plot is a little far-fetched, but it gets the job done and effectively carries Sachar's theme of personal responsibility.