This is a coming of age story of a girl born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, and also named Savannah by her controlling mother so that when she becomes famous, she is known as “Savannah from Savannah.” The mother, Victoria, a former beauty queen, seems to be running everything in town – and far beyond, as her daughter will discover one day. She has Savannah's life all scheduled and planned out, which the girl resents, needless to say. She wants to be herself and not what her mother dictates her to be.
At the age of thirteen, Savannah writes a petition asking to change her legal name, has it signed by all her school friends and presents it to the judge at the courthouse. She wants to be called Betty. This results only in her mother being called. Looking “fabulous-perturbed,” Victoria arrives and takes Savannah home. The incident does not teach her anything. She continues to oppress and control her daughter.
Savannah resorts to expressing herself in creative writing, and she becomes good at it. Her mother is not against this hobby – after all, writers are famous. Savannah is allowed to go to University of Georgia and major in journalism. Eager to get away from her hometown and especially her mother, Savannah enjoys her newfound freedom. She works hard to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer and devotes two years to her first book.
The dean likes Savannah's novel and sends it to a fiction contest. When Savannah receives a letter from the contest, she is certain that it's a rejection. Much to her surprise – and delight – the letter informs her that her novel is the winner. This means exposure, reviews in prestigious magazines, and a publishing contract. Basically, this means the door to the publishing world is wide open. Overjoyed, Savannah reads the letter over and over again. Then she notices something strange as she happens to take a closer look at the envelope: it is addressed to Victoria Phillips, not Savannah Phillips. Why would the contest organizers confuse her with her mother? And how would they even know her mother's name?
When Savannah finds out that her mother had rigged the contest, she is devastated – and angry. She thought she had finally achieved something on her own; she thought it was an honest win. Determined to prove, once and for all, that she is her own person and needs no manipulative guidance, she refuses to accept the award and the publishing contract. Instead, she goes back to Savannah and tries to make a living working at the local newspaper. One of the things she is particularly interested in researching and writing about is beauty pageants, which also have the history of being rigged sometimes.
This report prepared by Laura Southcombe