Okay, so, like, two years ago, Savvy came out. And everyone went bananas about it and proclaimed their undying love and I'm sure I have at least three copies of it in the house, but I never did get around to reading it.¹
When my brother Fish turned thirteen, we moved to the deepest part of inland because of the hurricane and, of course, the fact that he'd caused it.
and here we are.
Thirteenth birthdays are special in any family, but in the Beaumont family they are especially special. On that day, their power first manifests. Mibs has been waiting for almost thirteen years to discover what her savvy will turn out to be.
But then, the night before her birthday, her Poppa is in a horrible car accident, her mother and oldest brother leave town to be with him in the hospital, and Mibs is left to find her savvy on her own. Well, she thinks she'll be on her own. But her unexpected roadtrip on a pink bus—along with two of her brothers and the preacher's two kids—may prove her otherwise.
To all of you Savvy-lovers: You win. Ingrid Law had me from that first sentence, and I have nothing but praise for this book. It surprised me, again and again—I'd think that I had it figured out, and then she'd throw a curveball—to the point where I realized that I really didn't know how it would all turn out, even right down to the last few pages. (And yes, I got a little weepy.)
Mibs' voice had a fantastic rhythm and her creative use of language always felt right. Never at all over-the-top or forced or look-at-me-with-my-amazing-literary-pyrotechnics. She sounded—and the book as a whole felt—like a Classic American Adventure. The roadtrip, the rhythm, the choice of words, the voice, the interactions along the way—everything was just... RIGHT.
AND. There are allusions and references to The Wizard of Oz throughout, which in less-capable hands could have felt hokey or derivative or gimmicky or distracting, but, due to Ingrid Law's talent, those references just reinforced that Classic American Adventure feel and made Mibs' journey A Part of Something Bigger. Which it certainly deserves to be. This passage highlights the rhythm of her voice and features some of the Oz fun—it's the only time, I think, that Mibs references it directly:
There, in Emerald, far from home, with Fish storming his storm and The Great and Powerful Ozzie knocked down to size inside the diner, I was starting to feel low on heart, and my brains and bravery weren't so sure either. Fish and I weren't in Kansaska-Nebransas anymore and we didn't have any yellow bricks to guide us, just a big pink bus and the yellow stripe-stripe-stripes on the highway.
It'd make an outstanding read-aloud for third, fourth and fifth-graders, and a great all-round read for anyone else. I'll be reading Scumble soon.
____________________________________________¹The cover art never called to my shallow, shallow self, and so it just kept getting bumped down the pile. And I know that a lot of people love the cover, but it just was too swirly-busy for me. I like it much more now that I've read it—I think it suits the story and the tone and Mibs' voice very well—but it still makes my eyeballs spin.
Book source: Review copy from the publisher.
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