My 8th book for the 2012 48 Hour Book Challenge is So B. It by Sarah Weeks. I've reviewed 2 of Weeks' earlier books, Jumping the Scratch and PIE, and found So B. It consistent with those (in a good way). So B. It is about 12-year-old Heidi, who lives with her developmentally disabled mother in Reno. Heidi and Mama are cared for by Bernadette, an agoraphobic neighbor with a connecting apartment. Heidi doesn't know anything about her father, or where she came from, because her mother only knows 23 words, and can't tell her. But when clues surface about Mama's background, Heidi sets out alone on a cross-country journey, determined to find out who she really is.
Though technically realistic fiction, So B. It has overtones of fantasy. Heidi possesses a freakish lucky quality. She can call head or tails correctly 10 times in a row, no problem. And she has a way of coaxing extra money that her family needs out of slot machines. Luck also brought Mama, baby Heidi in tow, to Bernadette's door, at a time when the two damaged women needed one another. Their small, unconventional family works, but the notion that they could actually manage in the real world is a bit of a stretch.
But So B. It is also a book full of sharp insights and profound truths. Like this:
"I'd be lying if I said that given a choice, I wouldn't rather know than not know. But there are some things you can just know for no good reason other than that you do, and then there are other things that no matter how badly want to know them, you just can't.
The truth is, whether you know something or not doesn't change what was. If dinosaurs were blue, they were blue; if they were brown, they were brown whether anybody ever knows it for a fact or not." (Page 4)
"I cried for a long time. I cried so hard, it felt like my ribs might crack open. I imagined my heart flying out like a small, red bird escaping its cage, going off in search of a more promising person to live in. A person with history. A person who knew." (Page 63)
Although there is some humor to So B. It, there's sadness, too. The relationship dynamics feel real, albeit unconventional. Heidi's relationship with her child-like mother is touching, though her more traditional parent-child relationship is with Bernadette. There aren't a lot of kids in So B. It. Heidi mostly interacts with adults. But there's still a solid coming-of-age feel to the book, as Heidi works to understand her place in the world.
So B. It is unique and suspenseful, heart-felt and moving. A perfect 48 Hour Book Challenge book. Highly recommended for readers age 10 and up.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@harperchildrens)
Publication Date: April 2004
Source of Book: Bought it
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