I picked this book up used at one of my favorite old haunts when I was visiting my family on the east coast in July. I think I noticed it because a decade ago I loved Holes (both the novel and the movie), and a decade before that, I was a fan of Sachar’s Wayside School stories, so I was already primed to try a new book by him. My husband ended up reading it first (in-laws are all fine and good, but by week two, escape – in any form, even your wife’s YA obsession – is necessary) and he loved it.
His devouring the book actually made me wary. My husband prefers novels like Cannery Row and Reamde. He’s reading The Grapes of Wrath right now. For fun. I mean, sure, I read it in high school and liked it a lot more than the rest of the class (in retrospect, I was probably the only one who read the whole thing), but I would never pick it up now, much less stay up half the night reading it.
When he’s not reading great American literature, he prefers to work his way through non-fiction like Cockpit Confidential and Traffic, and while our tastes occasionally intersect (we’re both Paulo Coehlo fans, and we’ll read any crazy book AJ Jacobs comes up with), he rarely convinces me to try his pick of the month (Flash Boys: A Wallstreet Revolt? Seriously?! It’s not happening). The one exception has been Don Quixote; we’re reading it together, although at the rate we’re going, we’ll probably be finished in about fifteen years.
So for him to grab The Cardturner and read more than a chapter without tossing it aside? I was intrigued. And wary. Then I started reading it, and I understood right away. This is a YA book, yes. But it’s also a book about playing bridge, and my husband absolutely swoons over games. He’s not picky – in the last few years, he’s picked up Mahjong, Dominion, and Quiddler with equal enthusiasm. Much like my mother, he will happily play any game at any time, even if he has to spend an hour teaching everyone else the rules, AND, even if after teaching them, he loses. He’s an incredibly good sport and has the patience to learn rule minutiae that I would probably ignore/never know about in the first place (I don’t even look at the rule books if I can help it). After reading The Cardturner, I’m actually shocked that he hasn’t asked to play bridge with me.
The amazing thing is, even though I rolled my eyes when I started the book (and occasionally had to force myself to pay attention to the longer rule sections in the story), I was genuinely excited about bridge by the end. Is that even a thing? Do people still get excited by bridge? Sachar surely is, and his passion is catching. The book was an absolute delight, and now that I’ve finished it, I find myself wishing I had a genius bridge playing uncle – or a teenage enthusiast – to get me started…
For more about Louis Sachar, head here.