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So B. It Paperback – October 4, 2005
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One day in her apartment in Reno, Bernadette heard a pitiful sound in the hallway. She opened the door a crack and saw a young woman standing there in her raincoat, her bare legs spattered with dried mud, holding a crying baby wrapped in a blanket. The baby was Heidi, and they had come from the almost-empty apartment next door for help. Heidi's Mama can't tend her week-old child because she has, as Heidi later says, "a bum brain," so Bernadette steps in and cares for them both tenderly. Mama says her name is "So Be It," but with her twenty-three-word vocabulary, this is all the information she can give Bernadette.
Twelve years later this strange but loving household is still together. Heidi does the shopping because Bernadette has "angora phobia," and pays for it with money she wins at the laundromat; Bernadette teaches her at the kitchen table while Mama is happily occupied with her coloring books, and the rent and utilities are always mysteriously paid. But Heidi wonders who she is, where she and Mama came from, why they were alone, and most of all, she wants to know the meaning of Mama's word "soof." When she finds some old photos in a cupboard, she knows where to go to find out, and as she sets out on a long cross-country bus journey, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into surprising places in this intriguing and heartwarming mystery. (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9–Heidi and her mother have lived in an apartment that adjoins with their neighbor, Bernadette, since the 12-year-old was probably no more than a week old. Bernadette accepted and loved them from the moment they arrived at her door but could never ask questions since Heidi's mentally challenged mother simply "didn't have the words to answer them." Bernadette's agoraphobia further isolates the child. Heidi struggles with knowing nothing about her father or her family history, and never having a real last name. Then she finds an old camera, which prompts her quest to learn the identity of the people in the photographs it holds and to discover her past. While traveling by bus from Nevada to Liberty, NY, the girl relies on her luck, instinct, and the people she meets on the way to learn the truth about her mother and her own background. Readers will pull for and empathize with the likable characters, especially Heidi as she struggles for self-knowledge. The almost melodramatic story has fantasy elements such as Heidi's lucky streak; hitting a slot machine enables her to buy the bus ticket to New York. Heidi's naive voice, however, creates a willing suspension of disbelief as she learns what she set out to and matures along the way.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Heidi It has always, so far as she has known, lived with her mother and her neighbor Bernice (Bernie) in their apartments in Reno. Heidi's family is remarkable for a great many reasons. Her mother, So B. It, has, what Heidi matter-of-factly calls a "bum brain". She's mentally handicapped and has only the capacity of saying only 23 words altogether. Bernie is a neighbor who has always cared for Heidi in ways that So B. It could not. Unfortunately, Bernie has agoraphobia and can't exit their apartments for any reason. Heidi, for her part, is what you might call normal were it not for one remarkable fact. She's lucky. Anytime her household needs a little more money to fix the vacuum cleaner or to pay an unexpected bill, Heidi tromps down to the local slot machine, wins a load of cash, and gives it to Bernie to use. And life with these three might have gone on in this fashion had it not been for a couple mysteries that Heidi wanted to solve. First of all, her mother can only say 23 words. One of them is "soof". Heidi wants to know what that word means, but her mom hasn't the capacity to understand or say. Second of all, baby Heidi and So B. It arrived in the apartment next to Bernie's years ago without anything but the clothes on their backs. And finally, Heidi finds an ancient camera in her apartment with film that has never been developed. Film, that dates back to before Heidi was born. Film, that might answer some of the questions she so desperately needs.
The book's a mystery at heart. Heidi's personal quest to track down her past and find where she comes from is both believable and the kind of thing kids can identify with. In spite of Bernie's objections, she goes out into the cold world to find what she wants most. Weeks, as a writer, deftly weaves different lessons and wisdoms into her text without ever making it preachy or didactic. Heidi says right from the start that there are some things in this world that you cannot know. That's a truth that places the rest of the book in a distinct and curious light. For her part, Heidi learns quite of a bit of the truth, even if large chunks are missing here and there.
What was most impressive about the story though was the character of So B. It. How do you go about creating a mentally handicapped character without reducing her to stereotypes or oversimplification? Somehow Weeks has managed it, and the result is an astounding novel. Quite frankly, this book hinges on whether or not you find the character of So B. It realistic and sympathetic. Weeks treads carefully around her subject but makes it perfectly clear that in spite of her problems, this is a woman who cares deeply for the people who love her. Even if she can't express it all the time.
There are also some touchy subjects that Weeks skirts around believably. As I read the book, I wondered how the author would deal with the details of Heidi's conception. I won't give anything away but to say that the book's a class act and the subject, which is addressed in a child-friendly manner, works. And by the way, if you're worried about whether or not this title will be interesting to kids, don't be. The writing here is great, riddled with mysteries and lots of lists that Heidi likes to keep things straight in.
That this book never received so much as a Newbery honor rankles me. Not that the actual winners weren't deserving, but this is a truly beautiful book that every child should know. My greatest fear is that someone somewhere will get it mixed up with the far more mediocre, "Ida B", which came out in the same year. For those who locate this title correctly, however, they will find something that is appealing to kids and yet is well written enough to earn the respect of adults as well. A gem.
I liked this book. The characters were interesting and less cookie-cutter than many other novels (children's and adult!) The protagonist is a good person, admittedly defying her adult guardians to undertake her quest, but not rebellious simply to rebel. The unorthodox family in this book makes a fine role model of a loving modern family. I really appreciate the lesson herein that we all have limitations, but we have to step up with whatever we've been given and do our best to contribute. The agoraphobic caregiver, for example, who can manage a household without ever going outside. It is also fun to see Heidi develop socially as she moves through the outside world for the first time on her adventure. Because she is older but never went to school, she analyzes and interprets her new social skills (lying, behaviors that people do or don't want to tolerate) in an interesting way, and there may be kids who really learn from this.
I'm glad I read it, and not just to preview for my child.
Thoroughly enjoyed the contrast in characters and real-lie symbolism between family, especially the delicate nature of mother and daughters. The author takes you in the mind space of the teenager and those surrounding her, but with a twist of fate that captures the reader until the end. Both my daughter and I read this title together, and became one with the characters with every change in the story and desire to see the little heroine "grow" as she went "threw" a myriad of emotional roller-coaster of her life.
i recommend this quick and delightful read to any mother and daughter that knows what it means to long for something even if it appears out of your immediate reach --- whatever is will be, and as the author titled this one, "So B. It."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Arrived before time stated. Impressive😀