“What if your grandpa moves mountains, one of your brothers causes hurricanes, another creates electricity, and now it’s your turn?”
That line on the back cover of Ingrid Law’s debut teen novel “Savvy” sums up the story more than any synopsis could. A quick but delightful read, “Savvy” tells a story of a young girl whose family members hit puberty in the most unique of ways.
Mississippi Beaumont (“Mibs” for short) is about to turn 13. For most girls that simply marks the pivotal time of their lives when they become a teenager, but for Mibs it means that she is about to get her “savvy.”
Her grandmother could capture songs. Her own mother is perfect. One of her older brothers controls the weather. And when her father is severely injured in a car accident, Mibs hopes that her savvy will be able to help him. Thus begins a two-day adventure across Kansas and Nebraska during which Mibs and her siblings team up with their preacher’s children, a bible salesman, and a chronically late waitress to try to get to the hospital and save Mibs’ father.
From the first line of “Savvy,” Law’s voice comes singing out to the reader in all the right ways. The book definitely feels like it’s written from the point of view of a 13-year-old (“The itch and scritch of birthday buzz was about all I was feeling on the Thursday before the Friday before the Saturday I turned 13” is one of several lines that contain amusing twists and turns). Law captures the essence of a confusing time in a girl’s life and adds the fantastical element of savvies to create a caricature of growing up to which all teenagers can relate. No, the novel won’t change their lives, but it might help to steer them in the right direction.
The greatest thing about “Savvy” is the message it gives to its readers. In such a time when the authors of the top young adult novels, like “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer, proclaim that they write for the pleasure of writing and do not seek to portray a message in their novels, Law’s take on the importance of staying true to oneself is a breath of fresh air.
None of Law’s characters are perfect. Whether it is because they have some sort of hidden, destructive power waiting to be unleashed or because they have secrets or traits that they think others will judge them for, all of the characters in “Savvy” are full of unique imperfections. Law builds upon those flaws and leaves the reader with the idea that a savvy is a unique gift in all of us, making us different, yes, but still the same.