The book Holes, by Louis Sachar, tells the story of 14-year-old Stanley Yelnats, whose family has been cursed with bad luck for generations. The curse began when his great-great-grandfather, Elya Yelnats, failed to fulfill his promise to carry Madame Zeroni up a mountain. Stanley is affected by the curse when he is falsely accused of stealing shoes donated by a star basketball player to an orphanage and ends up being sentenced to Camp Green Lake. At the camp, boys are required to dig a hole five feet wide and five feet deep every day. The counselors claim the digging is meant to "build character" and ask the boys to bring them anything they find. Stanley begins to suspect they are looking for something in particular when they are uninterested in a fossil he finds but interested in an empty lipstick tube. It turns out that the camp is searching for a treasure stolen from Stanley's cursed great grandfather, also named Stanley Yelnats, by outlaw murderer "Kissin' Kate" Barlow.
When Stanley's friend Zero runs away, Stanley decides to leave the camp to try to find him. When the two reunite, Stanley breaks the curse on his family by carrying Zero—the great-great-grandson of Madame Zeroni—up a mountain, fulfilling Elya Yelnat's promise. The climax occurs when the two return to the camp: they enter one of the holes and find the treasure, a suitcase marked "Stanley Yelnats," but the warden finds them and points a gun at them just as poisonous lizards swarm the hole. The two are saved when Stanley's lawyer shows up to exonerate him. Zero and Stanley are both freed from Camp Green Lake and split the treasure, consisting of jewels and bonds, to help their families.