Ingrid Law’s young adult novel Savvy (2008) begins two days before narrator Mississippi “Mibs” Beaumont’s thirteenth birthday.Mibs explains that among her family, thirteenth birthdays are especially important because that is when the Beaumonts develop their “savvy,” a special, supernatural power. Each of her two brothers, Fish and Rocket, have a savvy. Fish’s savvy is an ability to raise storms, particularly involving large bodies of water. After Fish caused a hurricane on his thirteenth birthday, the Beaumonts had to move deep inland, to a spot on the border of Nebraska and Kansas, so that Fish would be as far as possible from any coastlines.Rocket’s savvy is the ability to conduct electricity. Mibs's mother’s savvy is doing everything perfectly.Only Mibs’s father, Poppa Beaumont, who married into the Beaumonts, is without a savvy, and Mibs also has two younger siblings, seven-year-old Samson and three-year-old Gypsy, who have not developed their savvies yet.
As the story begins, Mibs’s mother receives a call that Poppa Beaumont was in a car accident and is in a coma at Salina Hope Hospital.Momma and Rocket prepare to leave for Salina immediately—Rocket gets to go because his electric touch makes the family’s old station wagon run—while the rest of the children have to stay home with Grandpa Bomba.
Miss Rosemary, the preacher’s wife at the church the Beaumonts attend, quickly learns of the situation and comes over to watch the children.Two of Miss Rosemary’s children, Roberta/Bobbi, age sixteen, and Will Junior, age fourteen, accompany her. Rosemary's oldest son is a state trooper who no longer lives at home.Bobbi is a typically sarcastic, uninterested teenager, while Will and Mibs are definitely interested in each other—though neither is ready to admit it.Miss Rosemary says they can have Mibs’s birthday party at the church the next day, and the Beaumont kids immediately panic—after all, their thirteenth birthdays are often dangerous affairs.However, Miss Rosemary proves impossible to dissuade.
On the morning of her thirteenth birthday, Mibs wakes up very early, and Gypsy, who sleeps in the same room, wakes up too.Then Samson’s pet turtle, whom the entire family believed to be dead, although Samson refuses to take him from his cage, begins to move.Mibs thinks her savvy must be the ability to wake things up.
At two o’clock, the Beaumonts head to the church and find that Miss Rosemary has invited many kids, including two girls who taunt Mibs in school, Ashley Bing and Emma Flint.Mibs notices a tattoo on Bobbi’s lower back, an angel with a devilish grin and a pointed red tail.Then the angel actually turns its head, swirls its tail, and says in a voice only Mibs can hear, “She’s really very lonely, you know.”Shocked, Mibs faints.
Mibs wakes up on the sofa in Pastor Meeks’s office.She hears the pastor arguing with a deliveryman; apparently, Meeks is upset because the Bibles the man has delivered are pink.Then Mibs hears two voices arguing inside her head, calling each other “Carlene” and “Rhonda.”From their comments, it seems that Rhonda is the mother of the deliveryman, Lester Swan.Confused by the voices, Mibs decides she needs to get to Salina Hope Hospital and see her father.She hopes that if she does so, her savvy will “start working right,” and she will be able to awaken her father.
Mibs sneaks out of the office without anyone noticing, finds Will Junior, and tells him she needs to get to the hospital.She walks outside and sees a pink bus that says “Heartland Bible Supply” parked by the church, with “Salina, Kansas” written on the side.Hoping the bus will take her to Salina, Mibs climbs inside, and Will follows.Bobbi, who is also standing outside, notices and decides to go with them.Fish also comes over to see what is happening, and as the deliveryman Lester walks out of the church, they all hide inside the bus.
In the bus, they find Samson already inside, hiding under an army cot.Lester drives off, and they are on their way.Unfortunately, when the bus reaches the highway, it heads north instead of south, and Mibs and Fish realize they are headed away from Salina, not toward it.As they travel, Mibs continues to hear Bobbi’s angel tattoo whispering in her head, saying that Bobbi is just as scared as the rest of them.Mibs can also hear the voices of Carlene and Rhonda arguing.After a short while, Bobbi and Fish get in a fight, and Lester hears them and pulls over.Seeing the deliveryman up close, Mibs notices the names “Carlene” and “Rhonda” tattooed on his arm.Explaining their plight, the kids convince Lester to let them tag along.They find out he is not headed back to Salina until tomorrow afternoon, but, having no better option, they decide to stay on the bus.
A little later, Mibs uses one of the pens Will gave her for her birthday to draw a smiling sun on Will’s hand.To her astonishment, the sun blinks, clears its throat, and says “Will has a secret”—but only Mibs can hear it and see it move.She becomes upset and screams for Will to wash his hands; Fish, knowing her uproar must have something to do with Mibs’s savvy, quickly uses his own spit to wash the sun away.The voice in Mibs’s head immediately fades, but unfortunately, Fish also becomes upset enough to stir up a pressure system that breaks the bus’s windows.Lester just covers the window and keeps driving.Will, suspicious, begs Mibs to tell him why the Beaumonts seem so special, but she does not reveal their secret.
Lester notices a woman whose car has broken down by the side of the road and stops to help her.When he cannot fix her car, he offers her a ride and introduces her to the kids as Miss Lill Kiteley.Mibs describes Lill as a “lighthearted lady” they all like right away, and Mibs tells Lill about her father being in the hospital, although she does not reveal they have hitched a ride without their parents’ knowledge.Soon Lester arrives at the Emerald Truck Stop Diner and Lounge where Lill works as a waitress, and they all head inside to eat.They have to park far away and walk though an alley, and Mibs and Will notice a homeless man sleeping and lag behind.Mib holds the man’s hand and tries to wake him up with her savvy.She hears his thoughts: “don’t want to see any more...feel any more...leave me alone.” She does not, however, succeed in awakening him.She worries that if she cannot wake this man up, she might not be able to awaken her father either.
When she enters the restaurant, Mibs hears an overwhelming number of thoughts and becomes nauseous, so Lill takes her to the back room to lie down.Fish stays with her while the others go back into the restaurant to eat, and Mibs explains her savvy to her brother: when someone’s skin has ink on it, whether it is a tattoo or a pen mark, she can hear the person’s thoughts.Suddenly Bobbi appears and reveals that she has overheard everything.She goes off to tell Will, and to make things worse, the back room TV flashes to a...
(The entire section is 2864 words.)