Book Review: Savvy by Ingrid Law
Do you remember in my last review when I said I had been reading a juvenile book that had a more mature tone than the young adult one? Well, this is that book. Savvy by Ingrid Law ended up being a bit of a gem in the rough. The author has the style of writing and turn of phrase seen in books by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, my two favorite authors. Savvy has a whimsical style that I absolutely adore and the writing is hilarious. It’s a squat, pudgy book and I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was.
Mibs, short for Mississippi, is about to turn thirteen and in her family turning thirteen is extra special. When a Beaumont turns thirteen they get their savvy, their extra special know-how or skill. Mibs is hoping for something good but when her Poppa gets in a car accident the day before her birthday she just wants something to help him with. Thinking her savvy can awaken her unconscious Poppa, Mibs drags her siblings and her might-be friends on an adventure by sneaking onto a pink Bible bus, a group of stowaways hoping to get to the hospital their Poppa is being kept at. But nothing goes the way Mibs plans, not the bus and not her savvy.
I feel like I should be in a sugar coma after finishing Savvy. This book is utterly sweet and cute. This isn’t a fast paced fantasy book like you usually see; this story is funny and heartwarming. All of the kids are adorable and even Bobbi, the token teen of the tale, is perfect in her teenage angst. Poor downtrodden Lester and upbeat, always late Lill round out the characters and manage to not be the adults that you wish would just drop dead so that the kids can just get on with it already. I often find in books where the main characters are kids or teens that the adults are obstacles to the story’s goal by sheer dent of high-handedness and disbelief. It’s enough that a reader wishes they would just drop dead so the main characters can finally be free to get stuff done. I actually didn’t want to shoot anybody in this book. (Shock, I know.)
Why do I think Savvy was more mature than Hex Hall, even though it’s a children’s book? The writing style of Hex Hall was simple, while Savvy is rich in detail with whimsical turns of phrase, more complex sentence structures, and a quirky style that demonstrates a master wordsmith in action. Savvy was just plain better written. The author has a habit of making words up, such as savvy and scumble. (No, I didn’t misspell something. That is really the word. Scumble means being able to control your savvy, or power.) Some people might find the weird vocabulary annoying but I found it charming and it’s pretty obvious what the word is supposed to mean by the context used.
Savvy by Ingrid Law is probably my second favorite juvenile book, behind The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell. It could easily be a young adult book but the age of the main character landed it in the children’s section. I see no reason why teens and adults would not love it. It has a fanciful flavor that just pulls the reader in. The sequel, Scumble, focuses on another part of Mibs’ family, a cousin apparently. Although Mibs doesn’t look to be the focus of the second book, it is part of the same universe, so it’s probably better to read Savvy before reading Scumble so as not be confused. Savvy by Ingrid Law turned out to be a little gem of a story.