It's the story of Alton Richards, who's hired one summer to be his uncle's cardturner. His uncle is a great bridge player, but he's gone blind. That's no obstacle to his playing in one way, since he can remember all the cards without having to see them. He just needs someone to handle them. That's Alton's job.
Alton knows nothing about the game, so that gives Sachar a chance to explain things to the reader. But he warns you every time something technical is coming up and even puts a whale in the middle of the page so you can skip it if you want to. (I didn't skip.) Things move along about as you'd expect until suddenly there's a big twist that I won't reveal. I know I wasn't expecting it, though maybe I should have been.
Besides being a bridge novel, this is a coming-of-age story, and I'm a sucker for those. It's also very funny at times, and I'm a sucker for that, too. I bought the book for Judy, who loves bridge, but I'm glad I read it, myself. Great fun.
But about that cover, which appears to show a guy asleep in a train station. What does that have to do with bridge? Or this book? Nothing whatsoever, as far as I can tell. Sachar's a big-time bestselling writer, though, and he must have had cover approval. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I just don't get it. Read the book and see if you can figure it out. And let me know if you do.