Monday, July 5, 2010

THE CARDTURNER by Louis Sachar



"Talk About Wow" is the title of one of the chapters in THE CARDTURNER by Louis Sachar.  It is also the perfect way to describe this book.  I was hooked on the very first page and read the thing in a single day.  My recommendation is - Don't Miss It!

With that said, many readers could be scared away by THE CARDTURNER.  The story revolves around the card game of bridge.  The book is filled with in-depth information and detailed descriptions of the game.  But don't let that frighten you off.  There is soooo much more to enjoy.

Alton Richards isn't really looking forward to the summer between his junior and senior year.  He knows he should look for a job but can't seem to get motivated.  There won't be any swimming in the backyard pool because it's still just a hole in the ground awaiting the final outcome of some lawsuit between his parents and the pool company.  Alton's dad has also just broken the news that the insulation company he works for is downsizing which means he's out of a job.  And don't forget, Alton's girlfriend just dumped him.  Great way to kick off summer vacation.

Just when Alton thinks things can't get anymore dismal, he learns that his "favorite" uncle, Lester Trapp has requested his presence.  Alton has been to his uncle's hilltop home only once before.  It was the elderly Trapp's birthday, and Alton was just five years old at the time.  Since Alton knows his parents are hoping for a huge inheritance when the old guy's time comes, he knows he must answer the call and find out what the old man wants.

A cardturner?  What is that?  Lester Trapp, who is now blind due to complications from diabetes, wants Alton to help him play bridge.  Trapp wants his young nephew to accompany him to his bridge club to read off the cards in his hand and play for him during the games.  Alton knows nothing about bridge, but he is about to learn.  He is also about to learn some of his family's darkest secrets.

Using first person narrative, author Louis Sachar takes readers into the world of bridge.  Alton is an incredibly likeable main character with a wonderful sense of humor even when thrown into the most challenging circumstances.  As he explains his eccentric uncle and other crazy members of the cast, he also teaches the basics of bridge.  Scattered through the story are informational sections about the game.  I agree with a previous review of THE CARDTURNER posted at Guys Lit Wire that these sections can be skipped if readers desire, but I found even though I was confused, I wanted to read them to gain knowledge of this mysterious game.

I'm not going to run out and start playing bridge, but thanks to Sachar, I can now appreciate the dedication and seriousness true players have for the game.  Whatever you might feel about the game of bridge, THE CARDTURNER is a heartwarming and attention-grabbing novel.  Even though this is billed as YA fiction, I'm passing it on to a bridge-playing friend of my mother's, and I know she's going to love it.

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