How do I adequately sum up how awesome The Cardturner by Louis Sachar is? How about: I totally want to learn how to play bridge now.
I guess I could start by explaining that I listened to this story as an audiobook. I’ve been on a real audiobook binge lately and a co-worker had told me that this book was a good one to listen to. So, the story is read by the author which is a little strange at first. He doesn’t exactly have the normal audiobook voice but it didn’t take long to get use to it and when he talks about bridge, you can tell that he really knows what he is talking about.
Anyway, what is this book about. This book is about Alton … and the card game bridge. Alton is just starting the summer before his last year of high school. He has some vague plans to get a job and he still trying to get over his ex-girlfriend who is now dating his best friend (who is a total dick and not just because he kind of stole Alton’s girlfriend but I won’t go into the other reason to avoid spoilers). Alton’s parents (who are kind of tools) are attempting to suck up to his rich uncle (possibly a great uncle but I can’t remember the exact relationship) Lester Trapp so that he will leave them his fortune when he dies. Which apparently could be any day now. Alton finds himself driving this uncle that he’s only met once before to his bridge club to play cards four times a week. Trapp has diabetes so bad that he has recently gone blind and he needs someone to tell him his cards and play them for him. And so starts this fascinating tale of bridge and relationships.
How could a story about a card game that is stereotypically played by old people be fascinating? Well, it helps that I love card games. Both sides of my family are really into them and we tend to play them whenever we get together. On my dad’s side, the most common ones we play are crib and golf. My grandpa was so good at crib that he almost always won and would count your hand for you before you could count it yourself. On my mom’s side, it’s Portuguese sets and pinochle. It’s pinochle that’s the key here because as I listened to the bridge explanations I came to realize that the two games have a lot in common. They both have bidding, tricks, and trump cards. Once I figured out that bridge is just a way more complicated version of pinochle, those sections became easier to take in and understand. Of course, there was no way that I was going to remember it all. I mean, I still have to make up a cheat sheet for what the all the points are for layouts when we play pinochle so super complicated bridge would be impossible. But still, I want to try it out.
Back to the story. I liked the most of the characters. I liked the little romance between Alton and the girl who is a family friend of Trapp’s (her name escapes me right now). I liked Alton’s little sister and Trapp and all his bridge buddies. I routed for them in each of the tournaments. And at end, the story took a surprising turn and I liked it.
So will The Cardturner win the Intermediate Division? As much as this is my favourite in this division so far, I’m thinking some kids and teens would not find this book quite as fascinating as I do. So, I’m thinking probably not.
What I’m reading now: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: the Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (I love everything she writes but this book is really dragging which I will go into more later if I ever finish it), A History of Britain: at the Edge of the World? 3000 B.C.-A.D.1603 by Simon Schama (audiobook).