Book Review: Scumble

ScumbleScumble by Ingrid Law

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like his cousin Mibs in Savvy, on the eve of his thirteenth birthday, Ledger “Ledge” Kale is convinced he knows what his special talent will be. And, like Mibs, he is mistaken. Instead of the expected super speed, he discovers that he has a gift for making things fall apart. After his uncontrolled talent wreaks havoc at his cousin’s wedding, his parents make an abrubt decision to leave Ledge and his sister in the care of their uncle on his ranch outside Sundance, Wyoming, while he learns to “scumble” – rein in – his savvy.

Law brings back characters from Savvy and introduces new ones while maintaining the tall-tale style and quirky turns of phrase of her Newbery Honor book. Here, the stylistic flourishes are little heavy-handed, especially in the early chapters; the language just doesn’t flow as naturally in Ledge’s voice. The book moves a little slowly at first as well, but things pick up considerably in the second half. Law’s colorful characters are definitely her strength, drawing the reader into the story even when plot turns challenge the suspension of disbelief. Ledge is a believably awkward, likeable teenage boy, just beginning to leave childhood, and the reader wants to know what happens to him and the people he meets in Sundance. There’s a touch of romance, but nothing too sickly sweet in this adventure. As “companion novels”, both Scumble and Savvy stand on their own, and there seems to be a hint of a possible third volume near the end.

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