The Cardturner

The Cardturner

by Louis Sachar

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Overview

"The Newbery-winning author of Holes fulfills a need the world probably didn't even know it had . . . for smart and puzzle-minded teens . . ."—Booklist

The summer after junior year of high school looks bleak for Alton Richards. His girlfriend has dumped him, he has no money and no job, and his parents insist that he drive his great-uncle Lester, who is old, blind, very sick, and very rich, to his bridge club four times a week and be his cardturner. 

     But Alton's parents aren't the only ones trying to worm their way into Lester Trapp's good graces. There is Trapp's longtime housekeeper, his alluring young nurse, and the crazy Castaneda family.

     Alton soon finds himself intrigued by his uncle, by the game of bridge, and especially by the pretty and shy Toni Castaneda, as he struggles to figure out what it all means, and ultimately to figure out the meaning of his own life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385736633
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 10/11/2011
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 167,090
Product dimensions: 8.22(w) x 5.54(h) x 0.76(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

LOUIS SACHAR is the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Holes and the award-winning Small Steps, as well as Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake. Louis Sachar is an avid bridge player.

Read an Excerpt

1    
My Favorite Uncle    

Ever since I was a little kid, I've had it drilled into me that my uncle Lester was my favorite uncle. My mother would thrust the phone at me and say, "Uncle Lester wants to talk to you," her voice infused with the same forced enthusiasm she used to describe the deliciousness of canned peas. "Tell him you love him."  

"I love you, Uncle Lester," I'd say.  

"Tell him he's your favorite uncle."  

"You're my favorite uncle."  

It got worse as I got older. I never knew what to say to him, and he never seemed all that interested in talking to me. When I became a teenager I felt silly telling him he was my favorite uncle, although my mother still urged me to do so. I'd say things like "Hey, how's it goin'?" and he'd grunt some response. He might ask me a question about school. I imagine it was a great relief to both of us when my mother took back the phone. Our brief conversations always left me feeling embarrassed, and just a little bit creepy.  

He was actually my great-uncle, having been my mother's favorite uncle long before he was mine.  

I didn't know how much money he had, but he was rich enough that he never had to be nice to anyone. Our favorite uncle never visited us, and I think my mother initiated all the phone conversations with him. Later, after he got really sick, he wouldn't even talk to her. My mother would call almost daily, but she could never get past his housekeeper.   I had only met Uncle Lester face to face one time, at his sixty-fifth birthday party. I was six years old, and to me, his house seemed like a castle on a mountaintop. I said the obligatory "Happy birthday" and "I love you" and "You're my favorite uncle" and then steered clear of him.  

"His heart is as cold as a brick," my father said on the drive home.  

That phrase has stuck with me, I think, because my father used the word cold instead of hard.  

My elementary school was a brick building. Every day on the way home, I would drag my fingers over the hard, and yes, cold surface.  

I'm in high school now, but still whenever I walk by a brick building, I feel compelled to touch it. Even now, as I write this, I can almost feel the hard coolness, the sharp edges, and the roughness of the cement between the bricks.

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Cardturner 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 76 reviews.
MaggieAntonCA More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of HOLES as well as a bridge player, so I figured to enjoy Louis Sachar's new book for teens, THE CARDTURNER [never mind that my teenage years are long past]. But I LOVED THIS BOOK! You can find the plot in other reviews. I'm going to rave about the writing, the characters, the philosophy, and the plot. Sachar puts you in hero Alton's head so perfectly that everything Alton does/says/thinks is fully integrated into a sympathetic personality. The other characters are run the gamut of humanity without being stereotypes: spunky kid sister, odious parents, manipulative best friend, cranky elderly uncle, and crazy cousin who turns out to be not so crazy after all. But THE CARDTURNER is more than a "how I spent my summer" teen novel. The mystery that Alton's family has tried so hard to conceal is carefully revealed, mental illness and domestic violence rear their ugly heads, the mutual distain between Alton and his elderly uncle slowly becomes respect and admiration, and young love blooms. Add in some ghosts and philosophical discussions for good measure, plus last, but not least, the game of Bridge. If anything can get kids to start playing bridge, this book will do it. Unfortunately for me, this is one of the crummy things about being a novelist myself. I used to read fantastic novels that left me feeling, well, fantastic. Reading Sachar's latest work certainly does that, but it also makes me realize that I'll never be able to write so well. Sigh. Maggie Anton www.rashisdaughters.com
Of_Books_and_Birds More than 1 year ago
This book is an extraordinary example of good writing. Louis Sachar took something as seemingly uninteresting as Bridge (the card game) and made it a central focus to tell the story of growth, love, life, and to point out what is important in life and what it is not. This story is easy to read and an excellent book to share with teenage boys to read by themselves or to read with them. We can all relate with the characters and their stories unfold in interesting and delightful ways. I would definitely recommend this book to adults and teens alike.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was absoulutely great. luved it. didn't hate it 1 bit. im 13, and i think that this book is great, great, great. i just skipped over the bridge parts and read the sum box. honestly, if u didn't read the sum box then u wouldn't really get wat is goin on in the back. who would hate this book anyway???
jrl4811 More than 1 year ago
Although it is a young adult book, I gave a copy to all my bridge buddies and several non-bridge-playing friends that have expressed an interest in learning the game. I've asked that they share the books with their kids/grandkids to get more people interested in bridge. This book is so lovely, and well written. You need not know anything about bridge to enjoy it. Those that have read it agreed that it is a wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first few chapters were a little hard to get thru but after that i couldnt put this book down! Highly recpmmended. Makes me want to learn bridge
KarenBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alton Richards is 17, newly single since his girlfriend dumped him for his best friend, and jobless for the summer. His parents' solution is to insist that he become his sick and blind great-uncle Lester Trapp's driver and bridge tournament cardturner. Alton's parents want him to get close to Trapp, so he'll write the family into his will and they'll get money when he dies. They aren't the only people after Trapp's money though... he has a longtime housekeeper, and young nurse, and the crazy Castaneda family has some dibs on him too. Alton has no idea how to play bridge, but he doesn't have to -- all he has to do is take Trapp aside, tell him what cards are in his hand, and then go back to the table and put down whatever card Trapp says he should. As Alton learns the game, he also learns that some of the stories his parents have told about Trapp and the Castanedas over the years have not exactly been accurate, and there are some interesting family secrets floating around. Lots of Sachar's humor, and lots of game and family related puzzles to figure out! Original, with a bit of a ghost story at the end (and little whales marking the "bridge strategy sections" with boxed summary explanations you can skip to). Love the characters! 7th grade strong readers and up.
mamzel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My grandmother taught me how to play bridge so I could play with her and her friends while I was visiting during the summer. I enjoyed the game and I realized there was a lot more to the game than what she was able to teach me. I read the columns in the paper but still realized that reading and doing were two different things.Alton's Uncle Trapp has no children but he does have other relatives who are trying to ingratiate themselves with him in the hope that he will remember them in his will. He is blind and he has "fired" his card turner so Alton is recruited to drive Trapp to his bridge tournaments and be his eyes during play. Alton knows nothing about bridge but Trapp thinks that is better anyway so that there is no chance that Alton can give away any information.We learn about Trapp and his relationship with Alton as we pick up information about how to play bridge as well as the wide, wide world of bridge tournaments. While I am aware how champion chess players can play without seeing the board, I never considered how a blind person could keep hands and played cards in their head. This kind of thing always make me feel more inadequate since I could never play at that level sighted. I thought that a book with bridge as a focus would be boring but I ended up liking it very much. I think it might be a hard sell to kids who know nothing about the game but it might interest some in looking for a venue to try and learn the game. That would really be great!
Beemo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I tried playing bridge many years ago but gave up because it was just too hard to be enjoyable, but...the book makes it sound fun. I really liked this book until the very end. It was just wrapped up a bit too neatly. And Alton's parents were completely despicable. They pissed me off.
rvolenti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The plot, characters, and story are okay. Nothing terrible but nothing amazing. It did make me want to play bridge, however.
Unoriginality on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Cardturner is about something no one would right about, especially for the Young Adult audience. Bridge. Somehow, out of something that no one of the age group would want to read, Sacha makes the magic happen but putting in emotional twists that keep the reader occupied. Alton becomes his grandfather's cardturner after complications to diabetes blind him. A cardturner assists a bridge player by playing the cards for them, and telling the cards in the player's hand. However, they cannot tell what play to make. That isn't it. Everyone knows Alton's grandfather is going to die soon. Alton's family is in desperate need of money, the Castaneda's are close friends of Lester's (the grandfather), and Mrs. Mahoney is Lester's made. Oh yeah, and Lester is filthy stinking rich. Throughout the story, the reader learns the basics of bridge, Alton uncovers inch by inch Lester's relationship with the Castaneda's, and everyone is trying to get in Lester's will. In other words, a must-read.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I know nothing about bridge, and was probably the only person on the planet who didn't like the book, "Holes", I really enjoyed The Cardturner. Alton Richards, the narrator, is in the summer before grade 11, and ends up with the job of being both the chauffeur and the card turner for his blind, bridge-playing rich uncle Lester. His uncle has such an incredible memory, that he is able to play an entire hand once Alton has told him which cards are in his hand. The book is not just about playing bridge - there is some history, some romance, and some spiritual channeling that are also part of the story. It won't be for everyone, but I found it a very enjoyable read, and now I also seriously want to learn how to play bridge!
ethel55 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story by Louis Sachar. It's a beautifully laid out story of family, young love and bridge. I admit the bridge part still kind of has me fuzzy headed, but I think the target audience will forgive Sachar his addiction and read right along. Our hero, highschooler Alton Richards, has picked up the strangest summer job. He's driving his blind Uncle Lester to his weekly bridge game and turning the cards for him. His previous turner, Toni Castaneda, made the mistake of asking Uncle Lester if he was sure about a play. I'm still not sure about a lot of the bridge moves, but this certainly a story worth reading.
knitwit2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Such a delightful book! I loved the characters, if you're a Bridge player you'll love it. If not, you can skip the technical stuff because the text indicates what is technical. Can't recommend it enough. Alton is a sweet boy who has absolutely met his match in Toni. Every character learns important life lessons, and even those of us who have already learned these lesssons will benefit from the reminder.
libraryclerk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fun read. Learned a bit about the game of bridge though don't plan to make it something I do.
papersister on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a fun book to read. Almost immediately I got sucked into reading it and wanting to know more about the characters. I tried really hard to figure out the parts about bridge but I never quite got the hang of it. Despite that it was pretty enjoyable.
KClaire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I would put this book in the realistic fiction category it has an element of magic realism. The book made me want to learn how to play bridge. Loved this book!
LostintheCrowd789 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I feel in love with this book. I thought it was very funny.
pamelawalker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alton has to be his rich Uncle Lesters cardturner because he has become blind. Alton knows nothing about the game f Bridge but soon develops an interest in it as well as in Toni, the previous cardturner. A well written book which also explains the principals behind the game of Bridge.
kcpiano on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of a nephew whose uncle is an avid bridge player, but has gone blind. Alton is forced to be his uncle's cardturner. I liked this book because it made me laugh out loud. The characters are all so real and expertly described from a high school boy's point of view. I felt like I was entering into Alton's world. He's funny, sarcastic, honest and vulnerable as the narrator of this story. There is a good amount of information about the game of bridge, but with the option of skipping it and reading the summary boxes instead. Nice.
bbellthom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a very good. If you have never read a Louis Sachar book before I definitely recommend this one. I read Holes with my sons Newbery group last year and just had to read this one. I laughed out loud numerous times in this book. The characters all seemed so real and I `m sure everyone can relate to at least a few. I have never played the game of bridge but this book makes it interesting, and makes you want to learn. In the book money was given by Alton¿s Uncle to start Bridge clubs in schools and I think that would be a great idea.
mtome on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the characters in the book, specially how determined Alton's mother was on getting an inheritance. The Bridge terms and playing I did not understand but it did spark my interest. It is funny how things work out at the end, not unlike other Sachar story endings.
lindamamak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Was not sure about this book at first because I wondered it students could relate to a card game such as bridge. However Sachar develops the story so that all can appreciate the story.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alton's appalling parents insist that he suck up to a wealthy great uncle - but Alton find the world of bridge more interesting than he expected. By turning cards for his blind uncle, Alton learns the thrill of a well-played game, and meets new friends worthy of his respect and affection. Poor Alton, his self-entitled parents are beyond icky, his ex-girlfriend is vapid, his best friends, well, stole his girlfriend. His sister is the only decent person he seems to know. And when he meets his uncle and uncle's relations by marriage he sees through his parents scorn to find a love story. And how refreshing to read a love story where the love of a game trumps the love of a girl. Romance takes a backseat here, and Alton's growing respect for his uncle, his understanding of the history of his uncle's family, and his exposure to different people in the bridge community are more important - as is his fascination with the game itself. I've never played bridge, but I've played games with tricks and trumps, so I didn't find the bridge instructions difficult to follow, but I appreciate the little summaries for readers who aren't interested in following the games.I'd give this to kids looking for realistic family stories, and also sports stories, just to see what they think about the idea of bridge as a sport.
WillaCather on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great story, but you have to either know something about Bridge or want to learn.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love adventure or card game mistery you should read the book TheCardTurner