Book Review – Small Steps

Small Steps | Louis Sachar

Holes #2 | 272 pages | 2006

Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

⭐️ – Skip It

From the Book Jacket

“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 Armpit is Ginny, his ten-year-old disabled neighbor. Together they’re learning to take small steps.

Armpit seems to be on the right path until X-Ray, a buddy from Camp Green Lake, comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme. X-Ray’s moneymaking plan leads Armpit to a change encounter with teen pop sensation Kaira DeLeon, and suddenly Armpit’s life spins out of control. Only one thing is certain: he’ll never be the same again.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I found Small Steps in a pile of donated books for my Classroom Library recently. I recognized the author, Louis Sachar, and was wondering if it was connected to Holes. After a little bit of research, I learned that this new-to-me book was the sequel to Holes, so I read it to see where the story continued.

I am also able to count Small Steps for the following reading challenges:

  • Book 2 for #SixtyBooks
  • Reading Bingo Spring 2017 – 2nd in Command Square


The book’s title Small Steps serves as a strong mantra for the main character, Armpit. His counselor “said his life would be like walking upstream in a rushing river. The secret was to take small steps and just keep moving forward. If he tried to take too big a step, the current would knock him off his feet and carry him back downstream” (4). This led Armpit to create “small steps” for him to accomplish throughout the rest of his life.

I think this is a positive message for anyone in life whether you are a student, teacher, parent, etc. No matter what path you’re on or choice you’re made, it’s always good to take small, carefully planned steps in order to avoid mistakes and/or overlooking details.

The bad outweigh the good, though, in Small Steps. My rating of one star is a suggestion that you should skip this book entirely. Holes should be the highlight of his literary career and your childhood.

The book’s slow plot development and reaching undertones are detrimental weaknesses. The plot development was slow and it was difficult to get into the book. I could not relate to the characters and there was little action between them to move the plot forward. By the end of the book, I felt that Sachar thought to himself, “Crap! I need to wrap this one up. Let’s have everything happen at once and end it.”

It was also clear that Louis Sachar was done writing for elementary students when he wrote this book. The lighthearted jokes and boyish charm of Holes have been replaced with hints of drug references and racism.

In terms of reading progress, I, literally, took very small steps reading this book. Every week that I would call it in Reading Roll Call, I would joke with my students and say, “Still reading Small Steps. Taking very small steps with it.”


Small Steps is more of a spinoff book than a sequel to Holes. Readers will dive into the post-Camp Green Lake lives of Armpit and X-Ray rather than Stanley Yelnats and Zero. Those looking to find out more about Armpit’s and X-Ray’s lives will enjoy the book. Another set of readers who would enjoy this book are those who believe the odds are against them and their dreams. As the book jacket states, Armpit and X-Ray have records and people are always assuming the worst, which is unfortunate and unfair. Young adults who feel like the world is against them or that trouble finds them may find a connection to X-Ray and Armpit and enjoy this book.

Happy Reading!

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