Book: The Cardturner

"The Cardturner"

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.

It’s good, but… I don’t know. I was expecting more from the author of Holes, I guess. I really liked Holes. The Cardturner–not so much. I mean it’s good, but… What do you mean I already said that?

Here’s the deal: the story itself is interesting enough. Alton Richards, our main character, gets to know the eccentric uncle he’s had to pretend to like his whole life–and finds out that he might actually like the guy genuinely. And it’s all thanks to the card game bridge. Okay, so that part wasn’t as interesting.

The author tried really hard to make the card game more teen-friendly, but at the end of the day, it’s either you like the game or you don’t. Nothing anyone says will get you to change your mind. Not even Louis Sachar.

But what really made me give up on suspending my disbelief was when–spoiler alert–Alton started hearing his uncle’s voice in his head. Which really made me cringe. And I do mean in real life. Come on, imagine a grown man cringing while reading a book called The Cardturner. That was me.

Thing is; I can forgive the really unnecessary forays into the rules and game play of bridge. I can look at them as something educational even. But I really don’t know what came over the author for him to think that giving Alton voices in his head a good plot twist. To tell you honestly, it felt like a cheap ploy to get the plot moving again. Or, at the least, to give it an ending he wanted to give.

Of course, the author did try to plant it ahead of time, with talk about ideas and how it can exist beyond the body fo a person. Which I would’ve accepted. But it wasn’t. For all intents and purposes, our two characters (Alton and Toni) were just hearing voices in their head and, to an extent, possessed by their relatives.

And then we hear nothing more of it. Sort of. We get a wrap up of where the characters are, with no mention of any more voices in heads, and then the book cuts off to give way to an article about bridge.

Again, the book’s good, but it could’ve been so much better.

Of course, this could just be me. Other people might have loved the book way more than I did. So, why don’t we see what other people have written about the book?
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