Seventeen-year old Alton Richards is in an uncomfortable situation. His free-spending parents have run out of money, and they’re counting on a huge inheritance to get out of debt. Alton’s job is to get close to his grandfather, a rich but blind man with a passion for the game of bridge. Alton quickly becomes much more than an extra set of hands to turn cards, and he ends up learning more about his grandfather than he could ever imagine.
I don’t want to ruin the surprise on this one, but I will say that this book is worth reading all the way through! I didn’t see the ending coming, but I should have expected a few twists from an author like Mr. Sachar. I especially like the way he gave a good deal of attention to Alton’s “everyday” troubles, like his relationship with his girlfriend. This isn’t a particularly long book, but it’s very “thick” in terms of the character development. I really enjoy these books where there’s not only an awesome story, but where you also end up caring about each individual character.
In fact, my only complaint was that I don’t know how to play bridge, and so I couldn’t totally follow along with the sequences of cards as they were dealt. Bridge isn’t nearly as popular as it was a few generations ago, which might be exactly why Mr. Sachar chose to base his story around the game. It would take a new player a lot of effort to follow the excitement and strategy that comes with each hand, just like it took Alton a lot of time and effort to appreciate his grandfather. Do you think that Mr. Sachar could be using the game of bridge as a symbol for Alton’s relationship with his grandfather? Can you think of any games that could be used to portray the way that your family members interact?