The Cardturner: A Novel about Imperfect Partners and Infinite Possibilities

by Louis Sachar

Teenage Alton’s great Uncle Lester is a serious bridge player. He’s also... read more

Teenage Alton’s great Uncle Lester is a serious bridge player. He’s also taciturn, brilliant, and blind, memorizing and playing each hand with the assistance of a cardturner. With hopeful thoughts of inheritance, Alton’s mom eagerly accepts aging (and wealthy) Uncle Lester’s offer to hire Alton for this role. Alton is resentful, but the complex, challenging card game soon has him intrigued. When Toni, Uncle Lester’s former cardturner, offers to teach Alton more about bridge, he eagerly accepts, although he’s too insecure to tell Toni he likes her. Years ago, Uncle Lester was in love with Toni’s grandmother, a smart, savvy bridge player who was already married and ended her life in an asylum, a victim of power, politics, and cruelty. But there’s a bit of cosmic triumph in the works if Alton and Toni are willing to play along. There’s plenty of bridge action in Louis Sachar’s unusual and entertaining novel, but it’s the human story that holds it fast, including two tales of love. Sachar cleverly gives information about bridge strategies in sections of text preceded by a graphic of a whale—narrator Alton’s way of indicating that what comes next may be as boring as those sections about whales in Moby Dick: Feel free to skip ahead. But some teens may find the mathematics and complexities of the game as fascinating as the hearts and minds of Sachar’s characters. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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