The Low Down: It’s the summer before junior year, and it isn’t going well. First, Alton Richards’ girlfriend leaves him for his best friend. Then his mother insists that he hang out with his Great-Uncle Lester all summer. Lester is a master bridge player who, ever since he lost his sight, needs someone to read and play his cards for him during games and tournaments. Alton’s dad has recently lost his job, and Alton’s mom is hoping that her status as “favorite niece” will mean that Lester will be generous to them in his will. Very generous.
At first, Alton doesn’t get bridge at all; but the longer he watches and listens, he starts to like it and look forward to helping Lester. He also starts to understand the Lester, the man,since he is more than just an ATM. Taciturn and reticent, he’s not into revealing himself to Alton or reveling in small talk. Eventually, however, through Uncle Lester’s friends and fellow bridge players, Alton is able to understand and appreciate his uncle and bridge.
Best Thang ‘Bout It: Louis Sachar is an effortless writer, which couldn’t have been easy with all of the explanations of bridge and how to play, the terminology, etc. I appreciate his system of showing a symbol when he was going to write in detail about a bridge hand or play. That meant you could skip it and go to a box at the end of the explanation where a short explanation would be written. Clever.
I’m Cranky Because: It was so boring. I felt like the actual storyline was so bogged down in the rudiments of bridge. If all the explanations of the game had been stripped away, it would have been a short story. I’ll admit I do remember having trouble getting into one of his previous books, Holes, but ended up loving it. I really thought this would happen again.
To Read or Not To Read: It’s a well-written story, but I think it would be of interest to a specific type of person. I will leave that up to you to make that call.
The Cardturner by Louis Sachar was published May 11, 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
Genre:Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
Ages: 12 and up