Lugh goes first, always first, an I follow on behind.
An that's fine.
That's how it's meant to be. (p.4-7)
Lugh was only born, like, fifteen minutes before Saba, but the poor girl is convinced that her bro deserves to lead the way. This will become a key part of her coming-of-age experience over the course of the novel.
I can see by her face that she knows we ain't ever comin back, but she's gonna make me say it. (2.13)
This is the first big hump Saba has to overcome. It'd be bad enough if she were staking out on her own, but she now has to care for her little sister Emmi, a sister who is likely traumatized by recent events.
Because now I see [...] what I ain't gotta do, which is waste time thinking that anybody's gonna help us. [...] I cain't count on nobody but me. (4.448)
Want to learn how to grow up quickly? Get yourself stuck in a hopeless situation. That'll do the trick. Now that we're done being snarky, we've just got to say that Saba's best quality is her ability to adapt. She struggles just like the rest of us, but she never lets that keep her down.
A animal will do anythin to live. Even chew off its own leg if it's caught in a trap. That's the red hot. An I'm gonna hafta learn to use it if I wanna survive in the Cage. (5.130)
Saba calls her anger "the red hot." Sometimes the red hot proves to be an asset, like when she's fighting to the death inside a steel cage. Sometimes the red hot proves to be a hindrance, like when she tries to team up with the Free Hawks. As you might imagine, her ability to control these emotions becomes a key part of her coming-of-age experience.
Leave me alone, I says. But I know she's right. I'm dog tired an I ache all over my body. (7.50)
Part of growing up is knowing when to quit, and this is one of those moments. It's also one of the first moments when Saba accepts the help of another person.
Don't say that, he says. Don't ever say that. You are somethin, Saba. Somethin good an strong an true. With him or without him. (8.67)
Even after everything she's been through, Saba still thinks she isn't as good of a person as Lugh. It's a real drain on her confidence. Luckily, she has Jack around, who rightfully points out all of the amazing stuff she has done over the time he's known her.
They're gonna need you, Saba, he says. Lugh an Emmi. There'll be others too, many others, who will look to you, an you'll hafta stand alone. (8.1272)
Nothing like a good old "Ghost Dad" dream to bring a hero's quest into full focus, huh? Here, we get the sense that Saba's coming-of-age experience has actually only just begun, and she will need to mature even more if she hopes to live up to the challenges that are in her future.
Hey, he says, what're you doin back there? I ain't got a clue where we're goin. Git on up here an lead the way. (9.1123)
See what's happening here? It's the reverse of where we started, with Lugh giving up his position to let Saba lead the way. That's huge for both parties, but it's an especially powerful tribute to Saba's internal growth.
Then he says, You look different.
I know, I says. My hair.
No, he says. It's more'n that. It's...you. You've changed, Saba. (9.456-458)
Lugh has experienced a lot of hardship over the past year and has surely matured a lot, but Saba has gone on an adventure that defied all expectations. She's been forced to step up to the plate, and Lugh can already tell that she's been hitting home runs.
She was here because of me, I says. I had to be the one. It's right that it was me. (9.397)
A mercy killing is a tough thing to even think about, if you ask us, so we'd say that Saba's decision to take responsibility for Epona is great evidence of her growing maturity.