by Ingrid Law
In A Nutshell
Developing a magical power when you turn thirteen sounds pretty awesome, but it might sound less awesome if you don't get a choice in what power you get.
"But any super power would be great," we hear you say. "Even a super awesome ability to grow and retract fingernails." (Wait—that sounds kind of gross.)
For real, though, would you want the ability to hear people's thoughts all the time? And not be able to control what you hear or whose head you eavesdrop on? We think not.
Savvy tells the story of Mibs (short for Mississippi… we get why she changed it) and her family, each of whom gets a special power—or savvy—on their thirteenth birthday. As it turns out, though, being able to control electricity or always bake a perfect pie can actually be a real pain when you have to hide it from the rest of the world. (Shmoop thinks it might be worth the effort for pie, though… just sayin'.)
When tragedy hits Mibs's family a few days before her savvy birthday, Mibs thinks she's got this savvy thing under control and can change the outcome of events. But—as you might've just guessed—things don't really turn out the way she's expected.
So while Savvy is technically about a magical thirteenth birthday, it's really about growing up. Have you ever looked forward to a birthday for what it represents? Maybe you longed to enter double digits, or perhaps—like Mibs—you've had your eyes on becoming a true blue teenager. Either way, you're probably familiar with the experience of looking forward to something… only to discover that it comes with a whole lot more than you'd anticipated. If so, this book is for you.
After publication in 2008, Savvy—by Ingrid Law—went on to become a 2009 Newbery Honor book, meaning that it was one of the best young adult books published that year. That was just the beginning, though, and the book went on to win literally dozens of awards. Not too shabby for a first book, right? Right.
Color Shmoop impressed.
Why Should I Care?
You know that nagging that sneaks up on you sometimes? The feeling that you don't belong? Have you ever felt like there's something wrong with you, but you can't put your finger on why exactly that is? We'll get the bad news out of the way first: that feeling doesn't necessarily go away as you get older. But now here's the good news: you aren't alone. Not at all. Pretty much everyone feels that way at some point, and as a general rule, the feeling passes.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, we're not ones to judge) for the Beaumont family, life always gets strange and weird on their thirteenth birthdays. This is when each kid gets a special talent—a.k.a. their savvy—that becomes both a blessing and a curse and forces them to leave school in order to hide it from the rest of the world.
There's more good news here, though: It turns out that no matter what your savvy is (for the record, Shmoop would like to be able to eat endless amounts of cake), it ends up making you pretty cool and interesting. Sure there's a pretty serious adjustment period, but in the end, savvies turn out to be excellent to have.
So here's the thing. Even if waking up on your thirteenth birthday doesn't mean you're going to score a super power in addition to your favorite kind of cake, this book is still worth picking up and hunkering down with. Because as Mibs struggles to come to terms with her savvy, we are reminded that everyone struggles with something, and if we can just be patient and stick with it, we'll find our way, too.