Creating the Change: A Review of Saving Savannah

Saving Savannah cover art

Saving Savannah
Tonya Bolden

Bloomsbury
January 14, 2020
Ages 14-18

It’s 1919—the Great War just ended, the Spanish Flu still rages, and women nation-wide are demanding the vote. Against this tumultuous backdrop, Savannah Riddle lives a life of luxury amidst the affluent African American community in Washington, DC. But she is beginning to chafe at the vapidity of her set and speculate about the poverty and struggle just outside her bubble. Making new friends and seeking out new experiences opens Savannah’s eyes to the world around her and challenges her to find ways to make a difference in her community.

Fans of Bolden’s earlier YA (Crossing Ebenezer Creek, 2017; Inventing Victoria, 2019) will be familiar with Savannah’s family tree, but this elegant story also works as a stand-alone novel. As pandemic, racial inequality, and social unrest are once again—and still—front and center in our consciousness, Savannah’s fear, bravery, and determination to effect change feel both modern and timeless. Bolden sets a brisk pace with the narrative that is well-matched to the book’s chaotic events and prevents the difficult themes for getting too weighty. While Savannah is clearly the central and most dynamic figure, the supporting characters (including many real-life historic figures) are well-drawn and provide a strong counterpoint to her journey from debutante to social justice advocate. History lovers will appreciate Bolden’s thorough research and documentation. The extensive author’s note offers a look at the historical inspiration for many of the characters and events. Also included are background notes on many of the historical references, citations for newspaper headlines, photo credits, and a bibliography of selected resources.

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