Julie Decker's Reviews > The Cardturner: A Novel about a King, a Queen, and a Joker

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
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it was amazing

Alton's Uncle Lester is rich, and that's the only thing he's known about him for most of his life. Alton's parents are hungry for a generous shout-out in Uncle Lester's will, and the guy IS slowing down these days. And now that the old guy is blind and wants to continue playing bridge, he needs someone to turn his cards for him and read them off. Alton is pushed into accepting the cardturner job, and though he finds it confusing and frustrating at first to be bossed around and mocked by his blind uncle, he soon finds both a developing respect for Uncle Lester and a growing interest in the game of bridge.

Before long, Alton is finding ways to play bridge on his own, though he hides the passion from his uncle out of resentment. When Uncle Lester's teenage bridge protégé, Toni, comes into his life, Alton learns more about their curious connection from two generations ago and some messy family history that makes the current situation complicated. As Alton learns more bridge technique and accompanies his uncle to tournaments, he becomes invested in their shared goal: for Uncle Lester to finally achieve the Grand Life Master title. But in the middle of the usual teenage girl problems, family squabbles, and the inevitability of tragedy, Alton has to figure out how to finish what was started.

As is the norm for this author, the relationships between the characters are layered and realistic, with authenticity that oozes from the page. It probably doesn't seem that revolutionary to have a young person develop a new-found respect for and passion about an elderly relative and his game, but it's not just about that, and it never feels gimmicky. You can easily tolerate or even enjoy all the specifics about bridge--and yes, there are a ton of those--and you can definitely get caught up in the games and get invested in the characters' relationships and desires. There's all kinds of realistic-feeling history, with so much bittersweet/unrequited love, and such an enjoyable slow build to the peculiar closing of the novel.

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Reading Progress

April 22, 2014 – Shelved
April 22, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
November 5, 2014 – Started Reading
November 13, 2014 – Finished Reading

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