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The Cardturner

by Louis Sachar

Published by Random House, 2010
352 pages
ISBN: 9780385736626

Age 13 and older

Teenage Altonís great Uncle Lester is a serious bridge player. Heís also taciturn, brilliant, and blind, memorizing and playing each hand with the assistance of a cardturner. With hopeful thoughts of inheritance, Altonís mom eagerly accepts aging Uncle Lesterís offer to hire Alton for this role. Alton is resentful, but the complex, challenging card game soon has him intrigued. When Toni, Uncle Lesterís former cardturner, offers to teach Alton more about bridge he eagerly accepts, although heís too shy to tell Toni he likes her and says nothing when his best friend asks her out. Years ago, Uncle Lester was in love with Toniís 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 thereís a bit of cosmic triumph in store for her and Uncle Lester both if Alton and Toni are willing to play along. There is plenty of bridge action in Louis Sacharís unusual and entertaining novel, but itís 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 whaleónarrator Altonís 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 Sacharís characters. (MS) ©2010 Cooperative Childrenís Book Center

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