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Savage To Savvy Paperback – July 17, 2013
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About the Author
Kate Rigby has been writing for over thirty years and is widely published. Her titles include: Fall Of The Flamingo Circus, Far Cry From The Turquoise Room, Suckers n Scallies, Little Guide To Unhip and many others. She likes cats, music, photography and LFC.
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Top customer reviews
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Heidi is hired as a research assistant at a development institute where she encounters Nicki, a young feral girl raised by dogs. Nicki is the subject of an experiment to prove that children not exposed to language at an early, critical stage, can nonetheless be taught language, grammar and other skills. Heidi learns, however, that this experiment with Nicki has a macabre twist.
Character and Plot
The characters in this book are well-developed, and put on display bit by bit as the story unfolds. Heidi and Nicki are the main protagonists, but the supporting characters, mainly the Professor, are developed indirectly. I sensed two story lines here; one was Nicki’s efforts to reclaim a dimly-remembered past and rediscover her humanity, and the other was Heidi’s exposure of the Professor’s inhuman and inhumane experimentation. Incident by incident unfolds, and the reader is made aware of what happened, by whom, and why, in this psychologically suspenseful tale.
The cover is a simple graphic that conveys the contents exceptionally well.
I give this author four and a half stars.
They call her the devil's corpse child, Nikki for short. She had been found living in the wild near a derelict barn with a pack of dogs. Heidi Harper who mainly just scraped by with her psychology degree has been asked by the professor to help out on a new project, involving the rehabilitation of children with multiple deficits. Heidi fits the bill nicely and we get the feeling in the story that things aren't as they seem and that the doctors are using Nikki as some sort of experiment that will lead to a major breakthrough in the social living of today's children. Some parts of the story are odd as you learn of Nikki's sexual encounter with one of the other girls living at the hotel. If you dismiss this from the actual story, it turns out to be a rather interesting read. There's also a good background story of some of the characters and the story fits nicely, like a jigsaw - maybe a pack of dogs, no pun intended. Some major plot secrets are revealed halfway through the book and its quite fun to see the write use the actual title of the book in the book.
I would highly recommend this book as even the storyline leaves you saying wow.
Reviewed by Jennifer
No word is wasted, no word chosen until it suits its purpose, enabling Rigby to encapsulate so much back story succinctly into a sentence or two when needed; so that the story still advances and engages in its very natural dialogue and, above all, in the observations which each character makes of the other characters through internal monologue. This, combined with knowledge and research which is woven in without ever being didactic makes for a very plausible story.
The professor's "studenty" son, Rudi, is convincingly drawn as is the prof himself while all characters, not least the psychology graduate, Heidi, in pursuit of more genuine care for Nicki, are clearly individuated, none stereotypical, and so they grew on me and wouldn't let go as I lived alongside their lives vicariously in print.
Could anybody fail to be on the feral Nicki's side or fear that perverted science and 'minders for carers' could be trusted in the same way as parents might have cared for their child ? Let the author speak for herself:
"... Nicki, she whined, she pined. She hunted on all fours. She tore off the strips of raw meat from the bone. She parted with a lolling tongue. She sniffed and recognised people by their scent. She rooted out bulbs from the ground. She chased sticks and rabbits and shook off water in the same manner as her four-legged upbringer. She bared her rusty-brown teeth. She raced with the pack. She cocked a leg to piss and squatted to dump. All the behaviours you'd expect of a dog."
I can't recall repetition of a personal pronoun being used to retain such emotional impact beyond the writing of Dickens of which this is, indeed, reminiscent - but for its subject. The selection of detail, the observation, the determination not to spare the labour before the description cannot be bettered, all gain my admiration and, though the poignancy of this is in itself so powerful if you imagine your own child behaving in these ways, we have a yet equally poignant exchange between Heidi and Nicki :
"I thought you could help me to help you. Is that OK ?" Simple, but effective; bearing in mind the gulf between Nicki's behaviour patterns and those of the fully socialised, loved and successful Heidi.
Hiedi then observes :
"Nicki gave a vacant half nod, her moth-coloured hair falling across her eyes. She had a fresh gash on her olive face. She wasn't ugly, she just didn't know how to make the best of herself. Heidi's awkward posture and manner, as well as her raw, masculine look didn't flatter. "
No detail is lost to false sentiment. This kind of writing, when focused with compassion on a subject like the outsider; the feral Nicki, is worth much more than money could buy.