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Savvy by Ingrid Law
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's review
Apr 07, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: reviewed-for-watermark
Read in April, 2008

Two days before Mississippi “Mibs” Beaumont turns thirteen, her father is critically injured in a car accident and left comatose in Salina Hope Hospital. Coming of age in Mibs’ family is special, though—her mom’s side of the family all have “savvies,” superpowers of sorts ranging from doing everything perfectly (her mother) to her brother Rocket’s command of electricity (he burns out light bulbs when he’s upset but is the only one who can jump-start their ancient station wagon) to her Grandpa Bomba’s ability to make new land, like the strip of “Kansaska-Nebransas” where the family lives. So when, on the morning of her birthday, Mibs’ brother’s dead pet turtle seems to wake up at her approach, she’s sure she’s been blessed with a savvy that can save her dad. With her brothers Fish and Sampson and the preacher’s kids Bobbi and Will Jr., she stows away in a pink Bible-salesman’s bus and sets off to get to Salina and Poppa. But when tattoos start telling her people’s innermost thoughts, Mibs starts to worry that she won’t be able to help after all.
There’s nothing I didn’t love about this book. Like the best fantasy storytellers, Law immediately creates a world where the wildest things seem perfectly normal. And her language is delicious, full of alliteration, repetition, and inventive similes. Just listen to these sentences from the very first page: “I had liked living down south on the edge of land, next to the pushing-pulling waves. I had liked it with a mighty kind of liking, so moving had been hard—hard like the pavement the first time I fell off my pink two-wheeler and my palms burned like fire from all of the hurt just under the skin.” Not to mention my favorite new vocabulary word “scumble,” a painting term the Beaumonts use to describe learning to control their talents in public. Savvy goes far beyond the standard “it’s hard to be different” young-adult tale to a strong-voiced, delightful novel that anyone who appreciates eccentricity will enjoy.
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