Book Rave contender – The Cardturner

Oyan members, please comment if you’ve read this book and rate it on a 5 point scale with 5 being the highest.  Feel free to add books that you feel are book rave worthy in a separate post with”Book Rave contender” in the title.  Below is a brief review of The Cardturner by Louis Sachar from my own blog. The Cardturner is about a young man, Alton, who goes to help out his Uncle Lester play bridge by being his cardturner.  Lester has recently lost his sight and needs someone to play his cards for him.  Lester is also extremely wealthy, and Alton’s parents want him to get to know his uncle better because of this.  Sachar sets up a fairly interesting mystery involving Lester, which Alton needs to solve in order to understand his uncle.  But believe it or not, the real draw here is how Sachar makes the reader care about Bridge.  The characters and the plot are well thought out and executed with care, but it’s clear that Sachar wants teen readers to know about Bridge.  I’m obviously not the intended audience for this book, but I did end up caring.  I already love playing games, so when Alton gradually gets pulled into this strange world of “dummies”, “squeezes” and “contracts”, I got pulled in with him.  Bridge is unique in that you play with a partner and your relationship with your partner pretty much determines how you will do in the game.  The game is complicated, which probably is a barrier to entry, but the traditions and gameplay reward those who are dedicated, intelligent and attuned to their partner.  The importance of building rapport and trust in your partner is significant both in the game and in this story as Alton learns how to play the game and learns to work with his own partner (another teen who has learned bridge from Lester and a potential romance for Alton too). I enjoyed this book quite a bit.  Alton and Uncle Lester have a prickly relationship to start, but develop a real bond as the story goes on.  The game descriptions are interesting and fun at times.  The only real drawbacks are Alton’s money grubbing parents.  Their desires for Alton concerning his Uncle’s fortune are less than admirable and strain credibility on more than one occasion.  But other than that, this is a great book about an unusual subject that many teens might enjoy if they give it the time it deserves.  Fine for middle school and up. Mark R. – Cedar Mill Community Library