When I think of Sachar, I think of middle grade fiction not young adult. So when The Cardturner, Sachar's first YA novel came in a few months back, I made a mental note of it but that was pretty much it. I've haven't been having much luck finding MG or YA books will male protagonist recently. So I thought why not give The Cardturner a go, especially since I'd read a good review and a co -worker enjoyed it. After finishing yet another book where the ending turned on me, The Cardturner was just what I needed.
17 yr old Alton Richards as a very rich great uncle Lester (Trapp) Ever since Alton was young, his parent's told him Lester was his favorite uncle. Now, Uncle Lester is blind and his health is failing. Uncle Lester doesn't have any children of his own to pass his money on it. So, all immediate are doing their best to get close and be nice. Alton's parents are no different. Somehow Alton gets roped into driving Trapp to bridge and being his cardturner.
Trapp doesn't play a fun game of bridge with three friends. This is some serious, masterpoints are at stake bridge. The game of bridge is an important part of this story. Before I read this book I knew nothing about this card game. Now, I am pretty sure I can watch a bridge game and follow maybe 25% of it.
Somehow Sachar, made me care about a card game that's usually associated with a people of a certain age. Cardturner worked so well for me because of Alton. I liked his voice from the beginning.
Ever since I was a little kid, I've had it drilled into me that my uncle Lester was my favorite uncle. My mother would trust the phone at me and say, "Uncle Lester wants to talk to you," her voice infused with the same forced enthusiasm she used to describe the deliciousness of canned peas. "Tell him you love him." "I love you, Uncle Lester," I'd say. "Tell him he's your favorite uncle." It got worse as i got older. I never knew what to say to him, and he never seemed all that interested in talking to me. He was actually my great uncle, having been my mother's favorite uncle long before he was mine. "
By the time the game of bridge was introduced, Sachar already had me with Alton. His parents were very interesting, at times inappropriate and always funny. Alton's, 11 yr old sister, Leslie was smart, sweet and a natural at bridge. I really liked the brother sister dynamic in this story.
Trapp is very good at bridge. He once made it to the national championships. Now Trapp won't talk about it, whatever happened kept Trapp from playing bridge for years. Alton is determined to find out what went wrong. Alton's best friend Cliff is dating Alton's ex girlfriend. Alton, likes someone new, Toni, Trapp's former cardturner. Once again Cliff as eyes for a girl Alton likes.
Alton learns a few things about bridge, as his uncle cardturner and he shares that knowledge. When ever is going to go into depth about a bridge maneuver, there is an image of a whale. Sachar did this for those who don't want to read about bridge can skip these parts. Though I don't see why anyone would want to.
I really enjoyed The Cardturner. It was a very fun and entertaining read. I always appreciate a novel that simply is what it is, that in itself makes it very good. The only I wish, I have for this story - I wish Leslie got a chance to meet are great uncle. She's easily took to the game of bridge and I think the two would've have connected.
Alton was a great character. Cardturner its okay for middle grade students. Its nice having a YA nolve with an older teen male protagonist that I can recommand to readers 12 up.
Read an excerpt
A review @ Guys Lit Wire