Saffy’s Angel

by Hilary McKay
ages: 10+
First sentence: “When Saffron was eight, and had at last learned to read, she hunted slowly through the color chart pinned up on the kitchen wall.”

Back in November, when I read and gushed about Forever Rose, I made a resolution: I was going to read all the books about the Casson family, starting from the beginning. I finally got around to it this month, and I have to say that this one is just as lovely, charming, funny, enjoyable as Forever Rose was. (Start at the beginning, though. It makes more sense.)

Saffron, called Saffy, at age eight, discovers accidentally that she was adopted by the Cassons — her mother was Eve’s (that’s the Casson mom) sister, sure but that doesn’t make her belong. Fast forward five years, years where Saffy has felt not-quite-right. These feelings all come to a head with the death of the grandfather; he leaves each child something, and to Saffy, he leaves her “angel.” No one knows what that is, and so Saffy, propelled by a desire to know and a new friend, sets off to discover what that is (and in the process, finds home).

It’s not the plot, though, that won me over. I still adore the Cassons. I love the way McKay presents them — from their wacky house (named The Banana House) to their each individual traits. I loved how pragmatic Rose is — the way she “handled” Daddy on the phone was priceless — and Caddy’s ditziness is totally charming. Then there’s Indigo with is protectiveness and determination to overcome all his fears (by sitting in a windowsill), and Saffy herself, with her fierce determination and longing. I loved that McKay tackled difficult life issues with humor (though I won’t say grace, because the Cassons are anything but graceful. Crazy, yes. Elegant, no). I loved the daft English-ness of it all (again with that wacky English movie feel). It just made me smile (and laugh out loud).

(Well, I didn’t like Bill, the dad. He was a bit of a stuffed shirt, but I could understand how an OCD person would really have an issue with Eve and the way she didn’t keep house. I thought, though, that it was nice that he just left and lived in London rather than trying to force Eve into making herself over into something that he could stand. Worked for me, anyway.)

On to the next one, and I’m hoping it’s just as lovely…

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