Friday, December 31, 2004
Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay, 2001
I have just spent the afternoon with the most entertaining, warm, funny, and unusual people; they are the Casson family. In 152 pages, McKay has created characters I want to spend more time with and get to know better. Cadmium is the oldest girl and is learning to drive and pass her "A" levels. Indigo is the brother who dreams of exploring the Artic. Rose is the youngest who shows an affinity with paint as an infant.
We meet Saffy in the terrific opening sentence of the novel, "When Saffron was eight, and had at last learned to read, she hunted slowly through the color chart pinned up on the kitchen wall."
Through her exploration of a painter's color chart the story of her adoption into the Casson family is revealed. She learns that she was born in Siena, Italy and brought to England by her grandfather when her own mother died in an automobile crash. Although the focus of the story is on Saffy's search for her place in the family, the rest of the characters are so wonderfully drawn that the reader feels a personal connection with each one of them. The way the family members interact and care for each other is touching yet tremendously funny too.
Caddy's driving lessons (and her crush on the driving instructor) are hilarious. I laughed and laughed as I read. Indigo's valiant attempts to conquer his various fears are profoundly moving. Rose is a no holds barred artist. Her realistic view and handling of their father and his dismay at his unconventional family is cheering.
I sought this book out when the Junior Library Guild chose Indigo's Star as a selection this fall. Lucky for me, I will get to spend another afternoon with the Cassons now.
Stop what you are doing right now: order it, place it on hold at your library, or go out and buy it! You will thank me.
Posted by Camille at 6:11 PM