The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


August 7, 2011

Jeana Gockley, book review: Sachar makes bridge interesting for young readers

JOPLIN, Mo. — ‘The Cardturner’

By Louis Sachar

If anyone could make a book about playing bridge interesting, Louis Sachar can be counted on not to disappoint.

The best-selling author of “Holes” and the award-winning “Small Steps,” Sachar has a unique writing style that begs to be read. His latest novel, “The Cardturner,” might be about an intricate and little heard about card game, but it is fascinating.

The story is narrated by 17-year-old Alton Richards and takes place during the summer before his senior year. It centers on Alton helping his blind, rich great-uncle, Lester Trapp, play bridge.

Trapp is a master bridge player and despite his handicap, all Alton is required to do is to tell Trapp his opening hand and play precisely the card Trapp tells him. Alton does an excellent job as a card turner and ends up liking the game so much he quickly picks up the basics and starts playing in his free time.

As with many of Sachar’s novels, there is a story within a story that comes to light throughout the book, and this one is no exception. Alton has been hearing stories about his great-uncle his entire life, but during the summer the real story is told, and he learns that there is a big difference between what you think you know and what you actually know.

It might take some convincing to get this in the hands of teenagers (and even adults), but once they start reading they will have a hard time stopping. Highly recommended.

‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’

By John Green and David Levithan

Two boys, each named Will Grayson, narrate this teen tale about learning how to be oneself. At first, neither boy knows the other, but after a fortuitous meeting in Chicago they find they have more in common than just their names, and one of those things is Tiny Cooper.

Tiny Cooper is fabulous. His is a massive offensive lineman who just happens to love musical theater. It is his love of musicals that motivates him to write a play about his life, in which both Will Graysons earn prominent roles.

John Green and David Levithan make co-author magic with this one. Not only is it funny, sad and honest, but readers are sure to love the hilariously accurate musical numbers performed by Tiny and crew in the audiobook version of the book. MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl narrate the audio and they do a spot-on job.

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