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    Review of THE CARDTURNER by Louis Sachar (see his website)

    Delacourte, May 2010

    He was Alton Richards's favorite uncle. At least, that's what Alton's parents always told him to say. Uncle Lester was both rich and sick, and the Richards family could really use some money. So, when Lester's nurse calls and says Lester needs Alton's help as a cardturner during Alton's summer vacation, the high school student is drafted into the job.

    Lester's diabetes has left him blinded, but that doesn't keep him from his favorite game, bridge. For every hand, Alton is to take Lester aside, read him the cards, and then play the cards for him on Lester's command. One thing he is not to do...that's to question Lester's decisions. That's how Lester's former card turner got fired. It turns out, though, that the former card turner is the granddaughter of Lester's one-time partner and great love. Although she's initially annoying, it doesn't take long before Alton is more than intrigued. Just long enough for his best friend to have already asked her out on a date.

    Lester's dream is to compete in a National Tournament and to win a nationally rated event. With Alton turning the cards, he thinks he has a chance and Alton accompanies him to Sectional and Regional tournaments. Achieving Lester's dream becomes important to Alton as well, and ultimately becomes a life-changing event for all of them.

    Author Louis Sachar writes a charming story that includes teen angst, Alton's growing understanding of the world, a hint of the paranormal, with bridge players talking from beyond the grave, and a fascinating look at the mysterious world of bridge. I confess that I wondered how Sachar would manage to make bridge interesting to non-bridge players. It isn't the most active of games and it's hard to describe the subtlties that make it so fascinating to those of us who are hooked on it. So I was pleased to see that he managed. Bridge serves as part of the setting, but it's the people, especially the fast-maturing Alton, who matter. THE CARDTURNER is targeted at young adult readers but adult readers should also enjoy the interplay between characters and an offbeat look at a world that is generally experienced only by bridge addicts.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 9/19/10

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