I love middle grade novels. I love 'em so much I wrote one. I especially love them when I don't feel like I have to turn off a part of my brain to enjoy them.
Savvy is a great middle grade novel. Those writers out there trying to figure out what the heck agents and editors mean when they say they want "voice" definitely need to pick up a copy of Savvy, by Ingrid Law. Mibs narrates her story in her charming midwestern-small-town-magical-thirteen-year-old voice. Her quirky turns-of-phrase and unique sayings are easy to fall in love with.
Mibs explains her and her family's special abilities using a bizarre vernacular that somehow sounds natural. I didn't skip a beat when she explained that Rocket hadn't learned to "scumble his savvy."
You see, Junkies, everyone in Mibs's family has a savvy, or a special gift. Her oldest brother, Rocket, has a way with electricity, her brother Fish manipulates the weather, and her grandpa causes land to shift and grow. Their savvies are revealed to them on their thirteenth birthday. Fish caused a hurricane the day he turned 13, so the family had to move to Nebransas-Kansaka, to get away from the water.
Tragedy strikes Mibs's family two days before her thirteenth birthday. She's convinced her savvy will be able to save her family and she sets off on an adventure where she discovers not only her savvy, but even more important things about herself.
Savvy is really a kind of coming of age story. It tackles the tough moments of transitioning from a child to a teenager in a way that adults can relate to. There's a little romance, a little comedy, a little tragedy, and a whole lot of adventure.
Even though there were no real bad guys to fight, no monsters to kill, and no evil to thwart, this was still an exciting story that kept me turning pages. Mibs never had to risk her life to show us she's incredibly brave. She never had to hurt someone to show us she's strong.
After finishing the book, it took me a while to realize what was so different about it. I'm so used to associating magic powers and fantasy with good v.s. evil battles. This book showed me that there doesn't need to be a bad guy, that life itself is a big enough obstacle to require a heroine with super powers.
I'm looking forward to Law's sequel, Scumble.
Don't worry Junkies, I'm not going soft on you. My next post will hopefully be about Melissa Marr's Radiant Shadows which is sure to have plenty of ass-kicking heroines and bloody battles.