You really get three stories for the price of one with this book, but the main theme is how young Stanley Yelnats IV comes to redeem the curse which was visited upon his great-great-grandfather and all the Yelnats family, through the generations, by Madame Zeroni.
Here is the first thread of this story. Four generations ago, in Latvia, the young Elya Yelnats fell in love with the beautiful but stupid Myra Menke. He sought the help of ancient Madame Zeroni to win Myra’s hand in marriage. In return for Madame Zeroni’s help, Elya promised to carry her up the mountain to drink from a special spring one more time before she died. Unfortunately for Elya, the courtship went wrong and in a fit of despair he boarded a ship bound for America to begin a new life before he had fulfilled his promise to Madame Zeroni. Things never went right for long after that. Settled in America, Elya had one son who succeeded in making a fortune, but he lost it all when he was robbed by Kissin’ Kate Barlow, the famous outlaw.
So, when we meet Stanley Yelnats IV, he is on his way to a boys’ juvenile detention centre for a crime which he did not commit. The family curse has struck again! The second thread of this story takes place at Camp Green Lake. What can Stanley make of life in a juvenile detention centre? Stanley is rather a gentle type himself, overweight, reconciled to failure and being bullied at school.