Sunday, July 31, 2011

[Review] The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

Title: The Cardturner {goodreads}
Authors: Louis Sachar
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 01/08/11 (AU)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
RRP: $15.99
Source: Publisher for review
Age: 12+ Clean
Pages: 330
My Rating:

Summary:
The summer is looking bleak for Alton Richards. His girlfriend has dumped him to go out with his best friend, he has no money and no job. And then his parents insist that he drives Uncle Lester to his bridge tournaments four times a week.

Uncle Lester is old, blind, very sick . . . and very rich. Which is why his parents are desperate for Alton to worm his way into his good books. But they're in competition with other distant relatives.

Not expecting much from the outings, Alton soon finds himself getting to know a lot about his uncle, his family's history, and pretty Toni Castaneda, another contender for Uncle Lester's inheritance.
My thoughts: 

Let's clear the air a bit. I know NOTHING about Bridge, and it was only when I started reading The Cardturner did I realise what the title actually meant, and also what its hidden implications were. Because this book goes far beyond just this piddly card game for withering old men and women.

In dealing with the game of Bridge, the extent of wisdom and knowledge that Uncle Lester bestows upon his beloved ("HAH!") nephew Alton, the playing field extends far out and beyond just the game of Bridge. To learning, to life and death, to love, to knowing and perceiving and synchronicity.

The Australian cover for The Cardturner is a pretty good one. At first glance I just didn't know what to expect. Sure, cards were a given, so it made sense that there was a card displayed. But other than that I was lost. Though I did like the whale on the sign, and funnily enough it does have some relevance to the book itself.

Every chapter has its own title, a few words from that given chapter. For example, "1 My Favourite Uncle" and "2 A Turn for the Worse". It actually made it easier to keep track of what was going on with the story, say if I woke up the next day and forgot what I had read the night before all I had to do was read the last chapter's title and I'd be good to go.

The book is written in first person, from Alton's perspective. I liked his casual way of explaining concepts and replaying events.

The plot unfolds slowly but surely, and the chapters are so short that it was just really easy to give in and read "just one more chapter".

What really shone through though was (aside from the amount of intelligent insight that Sachar relayed to me through Lester/Trapp) the surprisingly complex characters. Especially the Castanedas. I truly did not think they would bear much significance to the book, but their story was so cleverly enmeshed with Alton's story that I kept on wanting to know more!

I really love how Sachar combined his love of Bridge with his love of writing a good story. His knowledge of the game is really something. I got lost in most of the bridge talk but even so the book has built an interest in me to play and learn more about bridge. I really do recommend reading this book, it was actually quite a pageturner!

Quote:

First line

Ever since I was a little kid, I've had it drilled into me that my Uncle Lester was my favourite uncle.

Favourites

"Toni hears voices," said Trapp. "But who is this Dr. Ellsworth to tell her she's a schizophrenic? Maybe she just perceives better than the rest of us. Maybe the voices she hears are uncommunicated ideas, floating free." (p. 124)

"I hope I remember everything," said Toni.
"You won't," said Trapp. "That's how you learn. But after you make the same mistake one, two, or five times, you'll eventually get it. And then you'll make new mistakes." (p. 70)

"The time you quit learning is the time to quit playing," said Lydia. (p.260)

"I always make the biggest fool of myself when I think I'm being the most clever." (p. 187, Alton)




Buy:


* cheapest Australian e-store price

AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS

INTERNATIONAL READERS

Amazon | The Book Depository

All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.




I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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