Books by Deborah Savage

KOTUKU by Deborah Savage
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: April 29, 2002

A romantic suspense with a combination of eerie occurrences, an ancient relative, and horses—making for a complex and demanding narrative that both intrigues and confuses. Fleeting glimpses of a strangely tattooed man lead Wim to look and see things around her she might have otherwise missed. Seventeen-year-old Wim works for and practically lives at the stable where owners Tammy and Evelyn rely on her and share her grief for best friend Jilly. That death has made Wim turn away from new people, resisting change of all kinds. Satisfied to observe, Wim sticks with her habit of rescuing animals, including the vicious Kid, a horse no one can come near. Then three newcomers appear. A Maori academic, David, with his rebellious niece, Tangi, and Great Aunt Kia, whose befuddled senility dissipates whenever Wim is left with her. Drawn to and equally resisting each of the newcomers to her life, Wim's budding romance with the older man, David, the possible friendship with Tangi and her obligations to Kia pull her reluctantly into life. Savage (Summer Hawk, 1999, etc.) both lulls and prepares readers for her revelations with odd plotting and emotional outbursts. At 15, Wim is wise and yet still a child. Her actions seldom make any sense but are understandable in an odd way. The connections between this old shipping family of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the visitors from New Zealand are rooted in the Maori culture and historical facts essential to unraveling the puzzle. The climactic events are painful, but it's clear that young Wim has reached a resolution. An unfocused but surprisingly satisfying romantic puzzler. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
SUMMER HAWK by Deborah Savage
Released: April 1, 1999

From Savage (Under a Different Sky, 1997, etc.), a slow, clichÇd novel about a smart, sophisticated, ambitious teenager stuck in a small town while her future looms large; the rescue of hawks is the excuse for some overwrought allusions to flight and freedom. Taylor has just finished the ninth grade in Hunter's Gap. She doesn't fit in with the stereotypical small-minded, small-town types, and she misses her (also stereotypical) workaholic mother, who spends most of her time in the city or traveling to conferences. Taylor feels that her sensitive-artist (another stereotype) father is the only person who understands her until she connects with the class outcast, Rail, and Rhiannon, the "hawk lady" who runs the local raptor rescue center. Predictably, Taylor starts to see the real people behind the stereotypes, and trades in her future at the upscale Porter Phelps school for an internship at the local paper. Along the way, her father sleeps with Rhiannon, who sees in Taylor her daughter, who died; Taylor first worships Rhiannon ("I created a secret world in my heart—a high, windy hill where I stood side by side with the hawk lady, our long hair blowing until it mingled together"), then despises her; Taylor also has mixed feelings for Rail, the hick with the heart of gold. Hard-edged Rhiannon's supposed charisma never comes through, and it's easy to dislike Taylor, who, between bouts of self-pity, snaps at the very decent Rail in every chapter. (Fiction. 12-14) Read full book review >
UNDER A DIFFERENT SKY by Deborah Savage
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 1997

In this badly written novel from Savage (A Stranger Calls Me Home, 1992, etc.), characters frequently reveal their attempts at ``art''- -dressage, painting, photography—to others, along with a string of clichÇs about the costs of following their hearts (or not) to fulfillment. Ben's mother can barely make ends meet as a cashier; his dreamer father's business schemes always fail; drunken older brother Tom has just lost his job. During these hard times the family relies on the rent the adjacent boarding school pays to use some farm land. Ben, 17, is torn between his mother's need for stability and his father's starry- eyed encouragement. He doesn't know whether to risk time, money, and energy on his secret dream of becoming a dressage champion, or to sell his beloved horse, Galaxy, for the family good and take a job in an auto repair shop. The novel takes a melodramatic turn when Ben meets Lara, a wealthy but troubled student at the boarding school, who is alienated from her adoptive family. After pages and pages of angry, then tender exchanges, Ben and Lara fall in love. Hackneyed elements make this story long and tired: The mystical bond between Galaxy and Ben (rendered in purple prose); a greedy school administration; Lara's bad-girl tantrums; her wealthy, uncaring parents. A pedestrian plot, dearth of credible adults, hysterical tone, and obvious themes make this novel unbelievable at its best and exhausting at its worst. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >
A STRANGER CALLS ME HOME by Deborah Savage
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1992

The author of Flight of the Albatross (1989) returns to New Zealand for another tale contrasting Anglo and Maori ways and involving young people seeking self-definition. Paul, after four years in America and contact with an activist uncle who once marched with Martin Luther King, is already observing racial divisions in New Zealand with a disenchanted eye when he strikes up a friendship with Simon—who was raised by his white mother and adoptive father but has just realized that strangers see him as Maori, like his birth father. The two go to a seaside area where they meet Fiona, Paul's second cousin, still living on land their ancestor wrested from the Maoris, and also her Maori friends—who, it turns out, still hope to regain the land where Fiona dreams of training horses: it is their tapu burial ground. Meanwhile, Simon begins to realize that his father's origins were also here, and both boys are attracted to the brittle, driven Fiona. In addition to this incompletely developed triangle and the mystery concerning Simon's father, there's a fair amount of melodrama to hold interest here, culminating in a fire that helps resolve both the land question and an old trauma troubling Fiona. At times, it all seems a bit overblown; yet Savage writes vividly and smoothly, entwining her themes with care and intelligence while alternating among her protagonists' points of view. An entertaining story with some depth. (Fiction. 11-16) Read full book review >