Our protagonist is seventeen year old Alton Richards who finds himself stuck going to see his blind great-uncle every day to be his card-turner whenever he plays Bridge. Yes, Bridge as in the card game bridge. His job is to tell his great-uncle what cards his hand holds and play them as his great-uncle tells him. The first day he takes Uncle Trapp to the club, he expects a posh place where members just pass the time of day playing cards. Instead, he discovers it’s a room in old building and the members are anything but posh and are anything but just passing the time of day. Bridge, for these people, is serious. Serious enough for competitions, actually. And what’s with the family secrets? What’s with the insanity that runs on Trapp’s wife’s side of the family? Is Toni really as crazy as Alton’s mom makes her out to be?
I loved Louis Sacher’s Holes, both the book and the movie adaption, so when I saw this book displayed in the YA section of our library, I had to pick it up. The blurb on the book-flap intrigued me further, so it went in my stack of ‘looks interesting, must take home!’ books and came home with me.
I finished it fairly quickly that evening, so it was intriguing enough to suck me, but not enough to earn a rave review. The lengthy explanations about Bridge bored me and I was grateful for the ‘whale’ sign to tell me when to skip ahead; I have a feeling this is going to be deterrent to the average teenager. Not many teens are going to make it past the Bridge descriptions, whale or no whale.
The spirit channeling at the end bugged me, not so much for my religious reasons, but more because schizophrenia is real and to blame it on spirit channeling is just lame in my book. The characters also felt rather flat and 2-dimensional – does Louis Sacher really know any home-schoolers? Quilt-making? Yeesh, that’s fundie stereotypical for a girl who is schizophrenic and believes that her grandmother is really talking to her. On the plus side, I have noticed more home-schoolers in children’s lit these days; we’re definitely becoming more mainstream and are seen less as weirdos. Usually. 😉