Holes, Louis Sachar, Scholastic Inc, 1998, 233 pp
Crime and Punishment for kids. This is one of those books I wish I'd read sooner. Because it is set in Texas, you get that special wacky dysfunctional Texas flavor. Because Stanley Yelknats gets busted for something he didn't do, you get injustice. Because almost any correctional facility is deeply flawed, you get a philosophy of punishment. As Stanley says, "If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy. That was what some people thought."
Stanley has been sent to Camp Green Lake for stealing; except he didn't steal. The facility has some weird stuff going on and all the "campers" have to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet around every day. But Stanley has a generations long back story and so does Camp Green Lake and kind of like digging a hole to China, the back stories eventually meet in a totally cool way.
Wonderful heartrending truth telling.