Weeks, Sarah. 2004. SO B. IT. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0066236223 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]
Love speaks in many languages or in some cases almost none at all. So is the case in Sarah Weeks’ touching and heartfelt novel, SO B. IT. Heidi, the twelve-year-old protagonist and daughter of a So B. It, a severely mentally disabled woman, makes her way through life with a strong case of good fortune and the daily help of her agoraphobic neighbor, Bernadette. Heidi and her mother have lived next door and under her care since they appeared on her doorstep when Heidi was an infant, and no other information about their identity exists. When Heidi finds a roll of film pushed back in a kitchen drawer, she commits herself to learning the answers to the mystery contained in the photographs. Since her mother’s vocabulary is limited to an utterance of only twenty-three words, she can offer no insight to the family’s past, and Heidi sets out on a cross country journey to try to learn who she really is.
Weeks paints the pages of SO B. IT with characters that are unusual, remarkable, and memorable. Each character is fully-developed and carefully rendered, leaving readers to be drawn fully into their world. Heidi’s narration and voice is authentic; while life may be difficult, she remains true to herself and her family. Though her frustration with life as she has always known it is evident as she shares, “A person isn’t supposed to have to guess who they are, they are supposed to know.” she remains committed to her family. Her innocence and naiveté are portrayed appropriately, and Weeks’ story never becomes too heavy-handed with sentiment—rather is remains a beautiful testament to the power of love.
After reading SO B. IT, teens could use U.S. travel guides to create an original map charting Heidi’s journey across the country in search of her past.
Readers could research ways in which mentally challenged parents care for their children and programs offering assistance for those families.
If you liked SO B. IT, try: Holt, Kimberly Willis. MY LOUISIANA SKY. ISBN 0805052518
By Rose Brock