Friday, July 23, 2010

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

I'm not sure how I feel about this one. When the premise is "Teen Gets Stuck Helping Old Relative For A Season" you kind of know what to expect. Usually it involves a Disaffected Youth, a Crotchety Geezer, some Life Lessons and A Mournful Yet Fulfilled ending. Cardturner was that, and also somehow not.

Alton, while not truly disaffected, is kind of blah. He isn't really anything. Nicer than his parents, stupider than the lead girl, somewhat swayed by his best friend, a fairly decent card player. I didn't dislike him but I didn't love him either. Uncle Lester, known as Trapp, comes off as your typical C.G., what with all the bossing about and putting people down and such. Usually I find these characters delightful in all their grumpiness and hating of life, but Trapp didn't sell me on it. I wish there had been more from him. More surliness, more put-downs, more depth to the character. And more gross old people stuff, like pranks with dentures and wacking kids with canes and other delights that only old folk can do.

The story involves A LOT of bridge, and by a lot I mean that if you are the type to 1)fall asleep or 2)get violent because card games bring up bad memories of that fateful weekend in Vegas or something, than this is not the book for you. As I've mentioned on NRL, I'm not much of a card player. I think that was a big part of my problem, because I found my eyes glazing over on a few occasions when bridge explanations got technical. I do have a new respect for the game though, and I plan on taking up bridge when I get a maid, become a trophy wife and the day increases from 24 to 30 hours.

My biggest issue came from The Twist that came about halfway through. I'm not sure if it annoyed me or if I liked it that way, because it tweaked my previously stated Known Formula Of Old People Plots.

For character development that left something wanting, I give Cardturner 3/5 Aces. Also, I don't get the cover. There was never a mention of a train station, Alton reading, or Alton being a bum at any kind of transportation station. Weird.

Book source: Local library.

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