I’m trying to make my blog more of a home base of operations, so I’m going to start including my “book reviews” here. I say that loosely because the way I talk about books is kind of lame. I know I should be reviewing them for literary merit, and I’ll try to do that more, but usually it ends up being a list of things I liked, including my favorite line. Also, I read many debut authors, so it’s probably nice to publicize for them even to my small amount of readers.
Having just said that, my first review is Louis Sachar’s The Cardturner. Sachar is no newbie to writing. You may recognize him from such books as Holes. I was excited to see a slightly older narrator, traditionally YA, show up in his writing. And I was not disappointed. I’ve had a run of tremendous books I’ve read, recently. The Cardturner is among the best YA literature I’ve read this year and will be joining a couple other books in my list of this-deserves-a-Printz-award.
Sachar’s attention to detail with character and voice is brilliant. There’s one line I love love love about 2/3 of the way through the book. Alton, the main character and narrator is shy and often pushed around by his family and friends, but he’s never whiny. In fact, he’s polite and gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, which made me fall in love with him a little and root for him to change, a lot. Because this is a book about playing Bridge with his great uncle, you get Alton’s charming descriptions of the elderly: “For the record, I never described Lucy as overweight. I simply reported what she said. I have been very careful not to refer to any woman as old and fat.”
And let me go back to the fact that this is a book about the game of bridge. I admire Sachar for pulling this off. His nod to Herman Melville is priceless. As an adult (but not one that grew up playing Bridge) I found the book completely absorbing. And I think teens will too. I also admire the way Sachar brought two stories from different times together, in the same tradition as Holes. Watching them collide was great. Sachar has a way of making the inevitable happen, but not being predictable, which is masterful. The chapter on synchronicity was my favorite.
And he’s funny, too! I loved this book!