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March 2015

The Cardturner (Louis Sachar)

Most people familiar with the YA fiction scene would know Louis Sachar for his novel Holes. There is no doubt that Sachar is a great author, and The Cardturner is no exception. Sachar manages to take a totally uncool storyline for a YA novel (playing Bridge with oldies), and create a novel that still has all the elements of YA success; best friends, romance, little sisters, annoying/embarrassing parents, and a journey of self-discovery.

Alton Richards is in his late teens and has fallen into the role of being "Cardturner" for his rich (and blind) uncle, Lester Trapp.  This is of great pleasure to Alton's mother, whose only concern seems to be to whom Uncle Lester will leave his sizable fortune. As with all rich, mysterious relatives there is always an age-old scandal to gossip about, and Alton is somewhat skeptical about having to spend time with his Uncle given "the details" of his past.  But does Alton really know the truth?

The underlying story of The Cardturner is, thankfully, a page turner, because some of the detail on the bridge playing can be dense and distracting for those who have no knowledge of the game (me).  Thankfully, Sachar realises this and in so doing uses a picture of a whale (the whale being reference to an intensely boring and detailed section of Moby Dick) as a visual cue for when a confusing, in-depth discussion of bridge will follow.  If you like, you can skip to the "summary box" at the end of the discussion.  How polite!

This was a fabulous story, so fabulous it almost made me want to learn how to play bridge.  Almost :-)  Recommended!



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