BookBrowse Reviews Savvy by Ingrid Law

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


by Ingrid Law

Savvy by Ingrid Law X
Savvy by Ingrid Law
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2008, 352 pages
    Mar 2010, 368 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book



Kids poised on the disconcerting edge adolescence will love traveling along with Mibs Beaumont on her wild, thrilling, and very bumpy ride to selfhood

With Savvy, Ingrid Law bets everything on a single conceit, the idea of a family whose members each possess a unique, sometimes whimsical, sometimes supernatural, talent, which manifests itself on the bearer's thirteenth birthday. Law asserts that her characters' talents or savvys are "not... sorcery," but an "inheritance, like brown eyes or... [a] talent for dancing to polka music ..." However, because of the 'magical' element to the story, bookstores may feel obligated to market it on the Fantasy shelf and readers expecting extravagant otherworldliness will be disappointed.

Mibs's mother explains that, "a savvy is just a know-how of a different sort... a different flavor." And, she asserts, while the Beaumonts' talents are spectacular, they're not the only ones who possess bewildering and wonderful gifts: "Some people know they feel different... but most don't know quite what makes them that way. One person might make strawberry jam so good that no one can get enough of it. Another might know just the right time to plant corn..."

The Beaumonts's gifts are weirder and more powerful than a knack for making delicious jam. It is difficult for Fish, Mib's brother, to keep strong feelings to himself: When he's angry or upset and near a body of water, his feelings summon clouds, wind, rain, hail, even hurricanes. Rocket, Mibs's electrically-charged older brother, has anxieties that literally spark, and his emotions can blow-out the power grid. Here, Law's conceit is especially illuminating: the adolescent boys struggle to accept and learn to control, or scumble, their savvys, in the same way all teenagers struggle to know themselves and master new and often volatile emotions. Other savvys that Law bestows are less interesting or more whimsical: Mrs. Beaumont's savvy is the ability to do things perfectly; Grandpa Dollop's strong feelings are literally earth-shattering: he can make the earth rumble and alter landscapes; Mibs's late grandmother could capture sounds and music in glass jars.

Law doesn't explicate the illogic that the Beaumont savvys force upon her plot, such as how Rocket can cause a city-wide power outage that doesn't include the hospital; or how perfect Mrs. Beaumont can make a mistake – but it doesn't matter. In Law's hands, the savvy idea feels just right. Young readers will identify with Mibs's excitement and anxiety as her climactic thirteenth birthday approaches: What will her savvy be? Who is she on the brink of becoming? What are her gifts and how is she to use and to control them? Law beautifully captures the full-to-bursting hope and worry that inform this precipitous moment in every young life.

I don't want to lessen the suspense by revealing Mibs's savvy, except to say that with it Law once again finds just the right mix of comedy and pathos. What's especially smart is that Mibs's gift is important, interesting, and accessible. I admire the earthiness that Law bestows upon the magical Beaumont family, and the magic with which she graces "ordinary" folk with whom Mibs and her family share the world: "We Beaumonts are just like other people… We get born and sometime later we die. And in between, we're happy and sad, we feel love and we feel fear, we eat and we sleep and we hurt like everyone else." Although "being different ran through [their] veins," the Beaumonts are important not because they're wizards in a world of Muggles, but because they're imperfect. In Savvy, Law reminds us that when embraced with wholehearted love, even the imperfect is magical.

Reviewed by Jo Perry

This review was originally published in June 2008, and has been updated for the March 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Women & Power
    Women & Power
    by Mary Beard
    The treatise Women & Power: A Manifesto discusses a scene in Homer's Odyssey in which Odysseus&...
  • Book Jacket: Speak No Evil
    Speak No Evil
    by Uzodinma Iweala
    Young Nigerian American writer Uzodinma Iweala is fast becoming known as a powerful chronicler of ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Anatomy of a Miracle
    by Jonathan Miles

    A stunning novel that offers an exploration of faith, science and the meaning of life.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.