Uncle Lester has always been Alton's favourite uncle. Alton's mother would thrust the phone at him.
'Tell him you love him'.
'I love you, Uncle Lester'.
'Tell him he's your favourite uncle'.
'You're my favourite uncle'.
So when he is designated cardturner for the blind, elderly and very wealthy bridge playing relation, his mother gives him some words of advice:
'Don't screw it up, Alton'.
The Cardturners is not just about inheritance obsessed mothers and strangely named teenagers though. It is fundamentally a novel about the card game Bridge. It also contains family secrets, lunatic asylums in the 60's, girls, and a snippet of Nixon.
As you get to know Alton a bit better, and he gets to know Lester as more than just the old guy he has always been forced to have stilted phone conversations with, they begin to form an eccentric bond. The family secrets begin to unravel, slowly and full of suspense. Bridge terms become less of a foreign language and part of an exciting and frankly, bloody difficult, card game that eventually seduces Alton into playing himself. It also began to seduce me until I remembered I have the attention span of newt, and therefore not much chance of learning all the rules.
Sachar has created another funny, well written, utterly believable and very intriguing novel that is definately just as good as, if not better, than Holes. Just with a few less deadly lizards and more old people.
Highly recommended, I loved it.