Scumble & Savvy by Ingrid Law

An Excerpt from Scumble

Page 1 of 11

Chapter 1

Mom and Dad had known about the wedding at my uncle Autry's ranch for months. But with the date set a mere ten days after my thirteenth birthday, my family's RSVP had remained solidly unconfirmed until the last possible wait-and-see moment. We had to wait until my birthday came and went. We had to see if anything exploded, caught fire, or flooded before committing to a long-haul trip across four states in the minivan. In my family, thirteenth birthdays were like time bombs, with no burning fuse or beeping countdown to tell you when to plug your ears, duck, brace yourself, or turn tail and get the hay bales out of Dodge.

I'd known for years that something in my blood and guts and brains and bones was poised to turn me tall-tale, gollywhopper weird. On my thirteenth birthday, a mysterious ancestral force would hit like lightning, giving me my very own off-the-wall talent. My very own savvy. Making me just like the rest of the spectacular square pegs I was related to.

My mom's side of the family had always been more than a little different. I doubted there were many people with a time-hopping great-aunt, a grandpa who shaped mountains and valleys out of land once pancake-flat, and a mix of cousins who ranged from electric to mind-reading to done-gone vanished—Poof! I'd even had a great-uncle who could spit hailstones like watermelon seeds, or gargle water into vapor and blow it out his ears. When Great-uncle Ferris turned thirteen, his savvy had stunned him with a sudden, sunny-colored snowstorm inside the family outhouse, toppling the small shack like an overburdened ice chest that rolled down the hill with him still inside it.

As for me, I'd been sure my birthday would treat me better—sure I had the perfect mix of genes to make me supersonically swift. Unlike Mom, Dad was ordinary, but even without a savvy, he was still one of the best runners in Vanderburgh County. So it was practically destiny that I'd become the fastest member of the Theodore Roosevelt Middle School track team. The fastest kid on the planet.

Nothing worked out the way I'd hoped.

On my thirteenth birthday, I didn't get bigger, better, stronger muscles, or start racing at the speed of light. I didn't get the ability to whiz blizzards in the blaze of summer, either. But it wasn't like I hadn't gotten a savvy of my own.

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