Holes by Louis Sachar is a classic middle grade novel narrated by Stanley Yelnats who is sent to Camp Green Lake for a petty crime he did not commit. It mixes past and present, realism and folklore, grim adventure across a barren landscape with goofy humor. The strong character development and lasting friendships reminded me a bit of The Outsiders. A 1998 National Book Award Winner, Holes is a book the whole family will enjoy but I especially recommend it for your reluctant boy readers.
Best paired with raw onions and a canteen of water hanging around your neck.