I dimly remembered liking Louis Sachar’s Holes, probably read when one of my sons was a pre-teen. Might even have seen the movie with Shia LaBeouf. And I like bridge. My mother-in-law has tried again and again to teach me how to play. Hence my purchase of The Cardturner, which is a Louis Sachar novel about bridge. How bad could it be?
Weeeell….. Turns out Sachar is an avid bridge player. And it seems pretty clear that part of his motive in writing this novel is to interest more young people in playing the game. Substantial segments of the book read like a YA version of Bridge for Dummies. Entertaining, clear, admirable instructive prose. Just — not exactly fiction. The premise is winning: teenager Alton Richards is strong-armed into serving as a “cardturner” for his rich uncle Lester Trapp. Trapp is a brilliant bridge player, but blind. Alton’s task is to take his uncle to bridge games, tell him what cards he holds, and play them as instructed. There’s some emotional stuff about the uncle and about Alton’s love life, and lots about bridge, which was actually pretty interesting.
I can’t be too criticical. I am not the audience for this book. But it did seem more like preaching than like storytelling.