Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden

Genre: YA historical
Rep: Ownvoices, Black

This was the first book I checked out for my Authors of Color Reading Challenge. Yes, I am finally caught up enough on my reviews to start in on the challenge I set for myself in June. -_-

Saving Savannah follows a young black woman from an affluent family in the early 1920s. Savannah is bored and feeling caged in. She knows there is more to the world than the teas and social events her mother arranges, but she doesn’t know how to get involved in them. She reminded me of a lot of ’20s era main characters I’ve seen, including Bright Young Things, Vixen, A Beautiful Poison, Brimstone, and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. The difference is that all of those main characters are white. Even the petty, spoiled, cowardly best friend could be pulled from those pages.

After about twenty pages or so, the story takes a sharp left. Savannah begins volunteering at a vocational school for young black women, and is slowly drawn into a world of political upheaval she was previously sheltered from. As 1919’s “Red Summer” consumes her entire Washington D.C. neighborhood and the surrounding area, Savannah has to come to terms with the hypocrisy in her own life. Fueled by guilt, she tries to use her privilege to help the new friends and allies she’s made, hoping to save at least one life. 

While I liked the overall story, this book wasn’t really to my taste. The writing was very choppy, broken up into one or two page sections that made it hard for me to really dive in and consume the story. However, I am glad I read it as it showed several different perspectives I was previously unfamiliar with, including prejudices that exist within the Black community.

It also serves once again as a reminder: Everything is Wilson’s fault.



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