Saturday, February 11, 2012


As in "I LOVE to play Scrabble!"
One of the joys of retirement (semi-retirement now) has been the freedom to play Scrabble with my Mom and any other Scrabble player she can con into playing with her. (My Mom does not need to con anyone into doing anything with her.  That is just a joke, Mom.  Honest.)  Especially, my Aunt, Sister A.  She may be a nun but she's wicked with those tiles.  And when my sister, H, comes to visit from the Gulf, I just give up any hope of winning and enjoy the play.

So when I read about Meg Wolitzer's novel for young teens, The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, I found out it was about Scrabble!  Well, it went to the top of my list of Books I want to Read!  And I read it.  And it does Scrabble proud.

Duncan has just moved with his single mother, his only parent since his Dad died before he was born, back to the town she grew up in.  So, he's the new kid, not an enviable position in middle school.  But right before school starts, he discovers he has a special power.  His mother begs him to keep this "talent" quiet.  She seems very very concerned to keep a low profile.  Only his Great-Aunt offers Duncan any encouragement. 

I admired Duncan's restraint.  I personally would have shown that Talent to the first two dozen people I met.  Duncan doesn't show it to the other new kid, Andrew, for several weeks.  But when he does display his "powers", the captain of the Scrabble team, Carl, decides that Duncan and his weird power will be the perfect partner to help Carl win the Youth Scrabble Tournament in Florida.

Duncan and bossy, rich brat Carl, are only two of the great young Scrabble players in this book.  There are the girls from Oregon, immersed in Scrabble for years but also trying to find a mysterious boy.  There's skateboarding Nate from NYC, whose father came in second at the YST when he was a kid.  Some of the kids are Scrabble insiders like the Oregonzas and Carl himself.  Others like Duncan and Nate have been dragged into Scrabble to please other people.

It just might be letters on a board, people, but this Scrabble tournament is full of drama, mystery and sudden revelations, as well as a hijacking in a second rate theme park.  And for dilettantes like myself there is a LOT of Scrabble stuff I never even heard about.  Oh yeah, watch out H and Sister A.,  Duncan Dorfman and I will bring you down!  (And M on the West Coast, expect a Scrabble throwdown next time we meet.)


  1. Well, I had a "throwdown" with H and....she beat me. I even had a seven letter word. She had two - all three in the same game. Bingo, bango bungo!

  2. scrabble is so much fun..i am an avid fan of the game..i am happy that its already out in Android