Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review: The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

Title: The Cardturner
Author: Louis Sachar
Page Count: 336 pages w/ appendix
Summary: When Alton's ageing, blind uncle asks him to attend bridge games with him, he agrees. After all, it's better than a crappy summer job in the local shopping mall, and Alton's mother thinks it might secure their way to a good inheritance sometime in the future. But, like all apparently casual choices in any of Louis Sachar's wonderful books, this choice soon turns out to be a lot more complex than Alton could ever have imagined. As his relationship with his uncle develops, and he meets the very attractive Toni, deeply buried secrets are uncovered and a romance that spans decades is finally brought to a conclusion. Alton's mother is in for a surprise!

Review: I loved Holes so much - it was my favorite book when I was a kid. Everything ties together so well and it's just amazing. I'm still in love with it, something like nine years after I first read it. So when I saw The Cardturner sitting on the table at the library, I snatched it up.

What I Liked:

  • Bridge! I'd never really known much about the game before I started this book and I'm sure the long descriptions of the game might've taken away from the book for some people, but they just served to make me even more interested in the game! I really, really, want to learn to play now.
  • Awesome old people! Alton's great-uncle Trapp is an awesome character. He's gone blind, which is why he needs a cardturner, but he memorizes every card without thinking and he's totally sarcastic and grumpy. But the best thing about grumpy old people? It means all the more when they compliment you!
  • Spirits! I'm not gonna reveal too much here, but the culmination of this book results in an awesome game of bridge that features two dead partners! Yay! 
  • Sparse writing style. I love the way that Louis Sachar writes - it's so easy to read and absorb but also contains so much voice that I can help but feel for the main character. 
  • Money-grubbing parents! Alton's parents want money from Uncle Trapp when he dies because he's ridiculously rich, so they always try to make Alton suck up to him. It's so gross and gold-digging, but somehow Sachar makes it funny. I don't quite know how he manages to make something that should be disgusting and sad hilarious, but it worked for me! Alton's mom was the best - she's always like, "Tell your uncle he's your favorite and you love him! Tell him, Alton. TELL HIM!" 
As you can tell by my enthusiastic exclamation points, there wasn't much I didn't like about this book. There was even a nifty little whale that told you when the boring bridge parts were coming up and then a little summary box if you didn't want to read the long bridge parts. I usually did though. I'm surprised how much I was infected with the bridge fever, though - I even downloaded a game! I'm really bad at it though because I don't completely understand it, but I'll get there! 

Overall, if you can get past some of the boring bridge parts, this book is golden. I didn't love this as much as Holes and I don't think anything can touch that book, but it was a really good read! 

Overall: 4.5/5 stars

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