"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Card Turner by Louis Sachar

The phrase "The book fell open and I fell in," aptly describes my reading experience with the Card Turner by Louis Sachar. And, mind you, I did not expect to fall in, either.  The book is predominantly about playing the card game bridge, a game I know nothing about.  But fall I did and I was completely captivated.  After reading a few other reviews on the book I think that the consensus of other reviewers is the same---no one expected to like the book because it was about bridge, but everyone did like it...and learned a little about bridge along the way.

The story follows Alton, a teenage boy who is enlisted to be the card turner for his blind great-uncle while he plays a very highly competitive version of  bridge once or twice a week. Alton has to read the cards to his uncle prior to the commencement of each game and play the cards his uncle directs him to play.  (I know, it sounds like a real snorer.)  Along the way Alton becomes fascinated with game, meets fascinating people, gets sucked in to a family drama, falls in love, and learns a lot about himself.  Like all good YA novels there is a little mystery, a sweet romance, and, of course, embarrassing parents.

The story is told in  first person with Alton's self-deprecating sense of humor showing up throughout.  About three chapters into the story a picture of  a whale shows up on the page.  Alton tells the reader that this means he is going to explain some complicated strategy used in bridge and if the reader wants he can skip to the text-box where he will summarize what was said.  I frequently did use the "skip" feature provided, but occasionally I read all the material.  There were also diagrams of the card in a hand which helped explain the point that was made.  (I know, I know, it still sounds boring.)  I read three-fourths of the book, then I found that the library had the audio version and I checked it out.  I enjoyed listening to Louis Sachar narrate his own book, but the audio version didn't allow for the visual display of cards when explaining strategies or hands and so it was more confusing to me than reading it.

My only criticism of the book, and it is a small one, is that Sachar cast Alton's parents as very one-dimensional  people.  All they wanted was to get an inheritance from the great-uncle and they wanted Alton to secure it.  All the other characters were much more multifaceted and weren't so single-minded, unless they were talking about bridge.

Sachar, the much loved and admired author of the book Holes, admits that he is a bridge fanatic. Here is an Interview with Sachar conducted by BookPage about why he wrote a YA book about bridge.  It is a fun and revealing interview.  Take a moment to hop on over to that page, but be sure to come back.

I really enjoyed The Card Turner and, I must admit, I am a little intrigued to try my hand at bridge, that is, if I can find anyone who still knows how to play. Whether you decide to try the game yourself is not the point. The point of this review is to entice you to read the book. I hope I've done that.


  1. This sounds like how much I love Dick Francis although I have no interest in horse racing. Sometimes the book/writing overcome that.

  2. Years ago we played bridge with some friends. I hated bridge. But, the book would probably be better than playing bridge.


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