When Alton’s ageing, blind uncle asks him to attend bridge games with him, he agrees. After all, it’s better than a crappy summer job in the local shopping mall, and Alton’s mother thinks it might secure their way to a good inheritance sometime in the future. But, like all apparently casual choices in any of Louis Sachar’s wonderful books, this choice soon turns out to be a lot more complex than Alton could ever have imagined. As his relationship with his uncle develops, and he meets the very attractive Toni, deeply buried secrets are uncovered and a romance that spans decades is finally brought to a conclusion. Alton’s mother is in for a surprise!
Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Well…. that was a book about Bridge.
So, I feel like I need to explain my low point already and you’ve not even read it because it does eventually lead into a high point. Even though the Bridge thing completely went over my head, I absolutely love that Mr Sachar wrote this book knowing full well that a lot of his readers will be like… um, WHAT?
I had no idea what was happening for the majority of this book, Sachar’s enthusiasm and passion for the game was so evident that I couldn’t help but wish I knew what was going on. I loved how he didn’t try and trick the reader with his evil Bridge-playing agenda, he put his… wait for it… cards out on the table and made no apologies. I can just imagine the meeting he had with his agent and his editor and being like ‘You know what? I don’t care. I love Bridge and I want to write a book about it and make other people love it as much as I do’.
I’m 100% sure I’d love the game if I had a clue what was going on.
Anyway, back to the high points.
Alton. Toni. Old people. Whales. The writing. Quilting. Ghosts.
Well, I don’t know what I was expecting… this book is, believe it or not, about Bridge.
It says so on the back of the book, right there… I’m looking at the words right now.
The author’s note… it’s says it again.
It’s not as if Mr Sachar lied and said “This book is about car chases and scantily clad girls and boys with leather jackets and chocolate muffins” and then wrote a book about Bridge.
He quite clearly stated that this was a book about Bridge.
So it’s not as if I wasn’t warned.
And Sachar did a splendid job trying to explain the rules and didn’t dumb it down for readers.
Which brings me to the low point. I kind of wish he had dumbed it down a little. I know we had the handy whale (which I adored by the way) that nodded to Moby Dick and warned you that there will be a section coming up about Bridge and warned you that there will be a section about cards that you will probably zone out in and then a handy little box that helped you understand it.
But I still didn’t get it and I’m quite good at cards once I get into the swing of things.
I think my biggest claim to cards fame (is that a thing? It should be) is that I once played a game of Bullshit without lying once…and won.
Also, I’m the Snap Master.
And that’s definitely a thing.
Oh Alton, you are hilarious. Let’s be best friends? You seemed like the kind of person who seems eternally bemused and I loved how for the most part of this book, whether it was with your family, with Bridge or even with the girls, you were completely out of your depth.
But you kept on trying.
I could have done with a bit longer getting to know you… but what I did know, I liked.
You’re a loyal friend (even when said friend is a bit of a twat)
Plus you’re a very loyal friend, even with said friend is a bit of a twat.
Also… a fantastic great nephew.
I’m always sceptical about lady love interests because I find that they are mostly really annoying. They’re either a massive bitch or painfully cool girls who like obscure bands that they think no one has heard of and wear non-prescription glasses.
But Toni was neither. In fact, she was amazing.
She’s intelligent, she loves her family and she makes quilts.
I could say more but she makes quilts so I don’t think I need to.
This review is pretty much going to end here (there aren’t many songs about Bridge, who’d of thunk it?) because I don’t really have much else to say.
The bits that weren’t about Bridge were fantastic and the characters were well-developed and extremely likeable.
My not being smitten with this book is no comment on Mr Sachar’s writing and it’s actually made me even more keen to read Holes, which has been on my TBR list for a while now.
It’s really my own fault for thinking a book that said quite clearly it was about Bridge might not actually be about Bridge.