Alton Richards, 17, has a very rich Uncle Lester who is also very old. Alton’s parents always prompted him to tell his uncle over the telephone that he (Uncle Lester) was his favourite uncle and that he (Alton) loved him. The only time Alton met his uncle was when he was six years old during the uncle’s 65th birthday party.
Uncle Lester’s health deteriorates, leaving him blind but still having a sharp mind nevertheless. He hires Alton to be his cardturner at bridge games four times a week. All Alton has to do is sit at the bridge table with his uncle beside him and turn the cards on his uncle’s behalf.
Alton was initially not jumping for joy at spending so much time with his elderly uncle at bridge games but finds himself being drawn to the game. He would watch how his uncle plays at the bridge club and then go home to share with his younger sister, Leslie, of the new things he has learnt.
He then meets Toni Castaneda who is closer to Uncle Lester than Alton or his family is with the uncle. Alton feels jealous with their closeness at first but soon discovers that he enjoys playing bridge and spending time with Toni.
The Cardturner is definitely an enjoyable read. It’s written from Alton’s point of view and I liked the short chapters as well as his easygoing personality which is reflected in the storytelling. There are also simple explanations on the basics of bridge in random parts of the book. You can skip them if you don’t want to know how bridge is played but only want to know what is going on in the story.
I really disliked Alton’s parents. They were obviously only eyeing Uncle Lester’s money and probably couldn’t care less for him. I didn’t like the way they kept telling Alton that he had to say something to Uncle Lester in order for the family to be included in his will. I’m not sure if I liked Alton but I found the characters of cranky Uncle Lester and Leslie endearing.
To me, bridge was a game played by a group of people. That’s all I know about it. And guess what? I still have no idea how to play the game BUT now I do know the basics of the game as well as the terms and phrases associated with it, thanks to the simple lessons given in the book. I didn’t realise that I would like the book so much. I don’t think that just because the book is about bridge that it should intimidate readers who have no interest in the game, like me. I also liked the book because there are funny bits in it.
I realised that bridge was about partnerships and that it’s important for bridge partners to cooperate well during games. Alton learns a thing or two about it which spurs him to want to find out more about Uncle Lester’s ‘perfect bridge partner’. Yes, there are mysteries to be unraveled in this story!