Excerpt from Savvy by Ingrid Law, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Savvy

By Ingrid Law

Savvy
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  • Hardcover: May 2008,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2010,
    368 pages.

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We were all smiling to each other around the kitchen table at the smart way we’d taken care of those beans when Momma dropped the phone with a rattling clatter and a single sob—perfectly devastated. She sank to the floor, looking for all the world as if she were staring right through the checkered brown and blue linoleum to behold the burning hot-lava core at the very center of the Earth.

“It’s Poppa,” Momma said in a choked voice, as her perfect features stretched and pinched.

A gust of wind burst from fish’s side of the table, blowing everyone’s hair and sending our paper napkins flying pell-mell onto the floor. The air in the room grew warm and humid as though the house itself had broken out into a ripe, nervous sweat, and the many dusty, tightly lidded, empty-looking jars that lined the tops of all the cupboards rattled and clinked like a hundred toasting glasses. Outside it was already raining fish rain—drops hastened from a sprinkle to a downpour in seconds as fish stared, wide-eyed and gaping like his namesake, holding back his fear but unable to scumble his savvy.

“Momma?” Rocket ventured. The air around him crackled with static, and his T-shirt clung to him like socks to towels straight from the dryer. The lights in the house pulsed, and blue sparks popped and snapped at the tips of his nervous, twitching fingers.

Momma looked at Poppa’s empty chair and waiting plate, then she turned to us, chin trembling, and told us about the accident on the highway. She told us how Poppa’s car had gotten crushed up bad, like a pop can under a cowboy boot, and how he’d gone and forgotten to get out before it happened, landing himself in a room and a bed at Salina Hope Hospital, where now he lay broken and asleep, not able to wake up.

“Don’t fret, child,” Grandpa consoled Momma as though they were back in time and Momma was still a young girl sitting on his knee crying over a broken doll. “Those doctors know what’s what. They’ll fix your fellow up in no time. They’ll get his buttons sewn back on.” Grandpa Bomba’s tone was soft and reassuring. But as the strobe-like flashes from Rocket’s nervous sparks lit Grandpa’s face, I could see the worry etched deep into all his wrinkles.

For half of a half of a half of a second I hated Poppa. I hated him for working so far away from home and for having to take the highway every day. I hated him for getting in that accident and for ruining our pot roast. Mostly, I realized that my perfect cake with its pink and yellow frosting was probably not going to get made, and I hated Poppa for wrecking my most important birthday before it had even arrived. Then I felt the burning shame of even having those thoughts about my good, sweet poppa and sank low in my chair. To make amends for my selfish feelings, I sat quietly and ate every last unwelcome green bean from beneath my mashed potatoes, as fish’s rain lashed against the windows and Rocket caused every lightbulb in the house to explode with a live-wire zing and a popping shatter, sending shards of glass tinkling to the floor and pitching the house into darkness.

Excerpted from Savvy by Ingrid Law. Copyright © 2006 by Ingrid Law. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Group USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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