I connected with this book through the main character learning the card game, Spades, from his grandfather, although I learned a slightly different card game from my grandmother, who was also quite proud of her card-counting skills.
Anthony Joplin is 10 and wants to compete in the annual Spades tournament, but he and his best friend are starting to see the world very differently. When a super-smart, tall and gorgeous Spade-playing girl starts at their school, and the other boy makes fun of her height and she stands up for herself, that just drives the wedge even deeper between the boys.
Ant's also dealing with his father losing clients at his accounting business. Pretty soon his father comes home drunk and he's gambling again, something his father hasn't done in Ant's memory, but his older brother and mother both remember all too well what happened the last time his father went on a bender like this.
The boys split and Ant accepts the new girl as his Spades partner for the tournament. Until he gets the idea that he can "fix" the situation with his dad by pairing up for the tournament with his older brother, who won it the year previous.
I won't spoil how it ends, or what happens. This was a great, quick read, and made me nostalgic for sitting around a table, playing rounds of cards late into the night. It's something I don't think many kids get and just like the Spades tournament in the book, is slowly dying.