Teen Book Review

Northeast Library

Teen Book Review

The Cardturner by Louis SacharBad news: The summer is just about over.  Good news:  There are still plenty of great books to read and there’s still time to complete the Own the Night Summer Reading program.  And if you’re looking for a book with a lot of humor and just a little heart, The Cardturner by award-winning author is a sure bet.

Alton Richards is usually a very mellow guy.  But when your girlfriend breaks up with you at the beginning of the summer to start dating your best friend, you can’t help but be a little depressed.  And then there are his parents, who are desperate to get their hands on the money of his mother’s uncle, Lester Trapp. When Trapp goes blind with complications from diabetes, he needs a cardturner to help him play his weekly bridge games.  Alton’s parents volunteer him and tell him to butter up his uncle so that they get more of his inheritance.  But other people are competing for the money as well. And Alton just might end up loving his irascible old uncle and the game of bridge before the last card is played, especially if he can help the old codger posthumously win the National Bridge Championship.

Sachar delivers another offbeat and humorous novel that is sure to appeal to many teens.  Alton starts off the book as something of a wuss, letting his friend Cliff manipulate him just to get girls. By the end of the novel, he’s still a little wishy-washy at times, but he knows what he wants and is willing to work to get it.  His parents are money-grubbing misers, but they are the only characters that don’t change for the better.

Love interest Toni Castenada helps Alton learn the game and gain confidence in himself. His uncle Trapp is a great character, a classic mentor who teaches Alton much.

And speaking of teaching, this novel lays out the basics of bridge (with the option to skip reading over the technical aspects of the game). Even with those instructions, teens may still be a bit lost, but inspired to learn more. (An appendix helps confuse the matter.)

Strangely enough, one of the most powerful parts of the book occurs in a flashback to the 1950s, when we learn the secrets of Trapp and the Castenada family.

The Cardturner is recommended for mid- to late-teen readers. Check it out along with other great books by Louis Sachar at Northeast or your local DC Public Library branch today.

-- Brandon Digwood