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Mississippi Beaumont, or Mibs as she prefers, seems to have a typical family. She lives with a mother and a father, a grandfather, two older brothers, one younger brother and a baby sister somewhere in between Kansas and Nebraska. But that’s about as close to ordinary as they get.

A “savvy” is an extraordinary, unique, out-of-this-world, unbelievable talent that goes beyond a person’s wildest imagination --- almost like a superpower. Receiving a savvy on one’s 13th birthday is something that runs in Mibs’s family. Her mom has one, as does her grandfather and almost all of her ancestors on her mom’s side. Her two older brothers, Rocket and Fish, are still learning how to control their savvy. Rocket conducts his own electricity, and when he gets upset, light bulbs burst, stoplights crack, and other unfortunate and hard-to-explain events occur. Fish controls the weather --- or, rather, he’s learning to control it. When he gets riled up, storms brew with wild wind and pounding rain. He caused a hurricane on his 13th birthday, thus the family now lives as far away as possible from large lakes and oceans.

The day before Mibs’s birthday, her dad is involved in a horrible car accident and is in a coma at the hospital. Immediately, her mom and Rocket drive over to be with him. The preacher’s wife hears the news and quickly comes to help care for the rest of the Beaumont family, much to their annoyance. Mibs isn’t very fond of the preacher’s wife or their kids, including 16-year-old gum-chewing Bobbi and her 14-year-old brother, Will Junior. And to make matters worse, the preacher’s wife wants to cheer everyone up by throwing Mibs a huge party. A public party on a Beaumont’s 13th birthday is a disaster waiting to happen. 

Mibs wakes up on her big day mixed with nervous excitement for her savvy to arrive and desperate worry for her sick father. She convinces herself that her new savvy will somehow be able to help her dad get better, if only she can get to the hospital. Later that day, at the church for her impromptu party, she sees her chance. She sneaks aboard a pink bus belonging to the traveling Bible salesman, knowing the vehicle will be returning to the city where her father is. Fish and Samson also clamber on board, along with Bobbi and Will Junior. The stowaways have no idea of the magnitude of the journey they are about to embark on, the excitement they will encounter, the friendships they will form, or the enlightenment they will experience. And no one, not even Mibs herself, could imagine how special her incredible savvy will be.

SAVVY is Ingrid Law’s first novel, and her own writing talents have burst out shining bright and clear. Not only is this story fun, hilarious, relatable and enduring, Law manages to cleverly sneak in words of award-winning wisdom that will help any person find some happiness within himself or herself, no matter what age. Her writing style and voice speak volumes through each of her unique characters, especially Mibs: “Maybe it’s like that for everyone, I thought. Maybe we all have other people’s voices running higgledy-piggledy through our heads all the time. I thought how often my poppa and momma were there inside my head with me, telling me right from wrong. Or how the voices of Ashley Bing and Emma Flint sometimes got stuck under my skin, taunting me and making me feel low, even when they weren’t around. I began to realize how hard it was to separate out all the voices to hear the single, strong one that came just from me.”

This is a wonderful, entertaining novel, and readers will be waiting impatiently for Ingrid Law’s next special gift of storytelling.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on March 23, 2010

by Ingrid Law

  • Publication Date: March 23, 2010
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • ISBN-10: 0142414336
  • ISBN-13: 9780142414330