Book review: The Cardturner

the cardturner by louis sachar 6-5-14This is a book about bridge. The card game. And it’s also a book about relationships. Alton, a seventeen-year-old is tasked by his mother of ‘keeping in’ with his rich blind uncle Lester Trapp by driving him to bridge club in the hope that Trapp will remember their family in his will. What starts as an arduous weekly task becomes a new hobby for Alton as he is caught up by the game of bridge, his uncle and the mysteries of his life.

It is a story about friendship between the generations, all brought together by the game of bridge. Alton doesn’t care about his uncle’s will, he just wants to play bridge better. And get to know his cousin Toni better too. Alton is his uncle’s cardturner, he sits beside him at the bridge table and plays the cards his uncle tells him to.

I am not a card player and I have to say I skipped some bits, but Louis Sachar [below] allows you to do this: he bookends ‘bridge technique’ sections with a line drawing of a whale so you know you are safe to skip a bit and won’t miss the plot. For this reason, this novel is more suitable for older teens than the younger teens who like Holes.



Like Holes, it is a charming book. It shows that your assumptions about things you do not know can be way wrong; Alton soon finds out that bridge is not a game played just by old people. He also discovers that old people can be cool, that they were young once and had their own romances and challenges. Just when Alton starts to understand Trapp, to appreciate him, and to get better at bridge, the plot takes a twist which forces Alton and Toni to make a choice.

Watch Louis Sachar talk here about The Cardturner and how his daughter thought her dad was just like Trapp.
To visit Louis Sachar’s website, click here.
Click here to read The Guardian’s review of The Cardturner.
For the basics on how to play bridge, click here.
To read my review of Holes, click here.
 ‘The Cardturner’ by Louis Sachar [pub by Bloomsbury]

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