TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
I have started so many books recently only to set them aside through a toxic combination of restlessness and boredom. We're talking dozens here. What a relief it was, then, to pick up Ingrid Law's delightful, quirky novel "Savvy" and roll straight through it, laughing often along the way. This is a sweet, offbeat, wholesome novel about what happens when Mississippi ("Mibs") Beaumont turns thirteen. The Beaumont family are very different from other folks. On a Beaumont's thirteenth birthday, he or she discovers their "savvy," which is basically an exceptional talent or ability unique to the family. Mibs' grandpa can literally move mountains, her brother Rocket conducts electricity, and her brother Fish can summon powerful storms. A savvy takes some "scumbling" to keep in line, so until a Beaumont learns to control this innate power, strange occurrences — like rogue hurricanes and power outages — have been known to occur.
Mibs is a smart, sensitive girl who has been looking forward to finding her savvy for as long as she can remember. As the pivotal birthday approaches, Mibs' regular-guy dad, Poppa, is critically injured in a car accident. While her Momma and Rocket wait at Poppa's bedside miles away, Mibs' birthday party is hijacked by the overbearing wife of a local preacher. Fearing what might happen when her savvy emerges at a public event, and desperately hoping to save her father, Mibs impulsively flees her church party and hops on a bible seller's pink school bus. As it turns out, Mibs isn't the only one on the run. Fish and silent, shadowy little brother Samson have followed her onto the bus, as has the preacher's bratty teenage daughter Bobbi and his solemn, kind son Will Junior. What follows is an odd road trip in which Will Junior and Mibs become closer, Bobbi turns out to be less tough than she appears, and bus driver Lester's two tattoos start talking to Mibs. Yes, you read that one correctly. Despite wishing otherwise, Mibs' savvy involves being able to read people's thoughts through the ink on their skin. You'd be surprised how that comes in handy in the end.
"Savvy" is a lovely hybrid of the coming of age and road trip novel. There are genuine moments of true emotion here between so many of the characters that I literally stopped several times and thought, "Aw, that's awesome!" Mibs is feisty and spunky, but she's also young in an authentic, non-cloying way. Following Mibs and her gang on this journey is one of the better reading experiences I've had in a long time. I can't imagine that there's a middle school girl around who wouldn't get a kick out of this story on so many levels. Enjoy!