The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
|The Cardturner by Louis Sachar|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A novel about bridge for teens and late tweens. Wait! Don't switch off! Sachar is as on point as ever, writing about odd characters and family dynamics with big underlying themes dealt with in a slightly surreal way. It's a great book and they might even want to learn bridge after reading it. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: June 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
How are we supposed to be partners? He can’t see the cards and I don’t know the rules!
17-year-old Alton Richards is shoehorned into becoming the driver and cardturner for his blind, octogenarian, bridge-playing, but above all rich, uncle by his grasping parents - who are up to their eyeballs in debt and have a weather eye on potential legacies. Alton sighs but goes along with it. He's used to being told to call Lester Trapp his favourite uncle and he's used to his unrepentently mercenary parents. Besides, Alton is at a bit of a loose end after his girlfriend and best friend got it together. Alton is like this - he lets things happen to him, rather than fighting his own corner. It's just easier that way.
Not that Trapp is an easy companion. He's irascible and rude, obsessed with bridge, and doesn't seem to think Alton is blessed with any particular talent. And he's totally obsessed with bridge.
Wait! Don't switch off! It's bridge, I know. Not the most obvious of subjects for a teen book. But Sachar is as on point as ever, writing about odd characters and family dynamics with big underlying themes dealt with in a slightly surreal way. Alton's parents aren't the only ones with their eye on Trapp's fortune: there's a longstanding housekeeper, a sexy nurse, and the entire Casteneda family - disparaged as bonkers by Alton's mother - including the enigmatic Toni, who was Trapp's previous cardturner.
As Alton gradually discovers that bridge isn't quite as boring as he thought, that Trapp might have a heart buried deep inside, and that Toni might not be as mad, bad and dangerous as his mother says, he also finds many parallels between his own life and his uncle's. It's all about making connections - bridges - this book, and using those connections to come to a real self-knowledge that enables a person to take real control over their lives. And this is what Alton must do.
It's funny, it's sweet, and it's wise. And yes, it's about bridge. I loved it, and so, believe it or not, will they.
My thanks to the good people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
Funnily enough, I don't know any other teen or YA books about bridge! But if they liked The Cardturner and Louis Sachar speaks to them, they might also enjoy Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce or Are We There Yet? by David Levithan.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.