Young Adult Literature


The Savage
by David Almond


A story-within-the-story that explores the means of handling grief forms the thrust of this compact book. After Blue Baker’s father dies, his school counselor tries to get him to write down and explore his feelings. “I did it for a while, but it just seemed stupid.” Instead, he secretly starts writing and drawing a story about a feral boy living alone in the woods. Blue’s story—which slashes into the narrative, the moody and ragged artwork a mirror for Blue’s inner turmoil—is interspersed with his struggle to cope with the loss of his father, run-ins with a bully, and difficulty reaching out to his mother and younger sister. The savage in his story is a violent, languageless creature who chases down, kills, and eats people who get too close. The line separating Blue and his imaginary savage becomes increasingly blurred, each bleeding into the other’s world, leading to an inevitable, though earned, catharsis. Avoiding sentiment, this illuminating book captures the staggering power of raw emotions on young minds, and demonstrates the ways expression can help transform and temper them.