Title: So B. It
Author: Sarah Weeks
Genre: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 288
Warning: This book review contains mild spoilers.
Twelve-year-old Heidi’s mom is severely mentally disabled and while she lives with her mother, she is essentially raised by her agoraphobic neighbor Bernadette. Her mom can only say twenty-three words and one of those words is soof. Nobody knows what soof means and it’s one of the many things on Heidi’s mind when she goes on a road trip to discover the secrets behind where she comes from.
This is one of those books I have been meaning to read forever (as in, years) and I finally got around to it. I enjoyed it but I found it a little bit contrived (I had the same problem with Sarah Week’s novel Jumping the Scratch.) Heidi had this amazing luck and could win money whenever she felt like it, a plot device that took away from the reality of the situation.
It conveniently explained away the dire financial straits she and her mother should have been in. I was relieved that Heidi’s real father turned out to be a developmentally disabled man who was close to her mother, instead of the opportunistic sexual predator I was expecting. The big reveal about the word soof was cute and that element of the novel held my interest, learning the why behind Heidi’s unconventional family situation.
I found it hard to believe that Hedi would be able to travel as far as she did without a guardian, or that Bernadette even let her go on the journey in the first place. Bernadette had reservations about the whole thing, but she was the adult in the situation and could have just put her foot down.
There’s a lot of bad things that could happen to a twelve-year-old out on her own, and I was surprised that nobody she crossed paths with was seriously concerned for her safety. She just ran into nice people who accommodated her and didn’t ask too many questions. So B. It is an entertaining enough middle grade novel that kept my attention throughout, but there a faint feeling of artificiality behind the narrative. It’s one of those books that will appeal more to younger readers or readers who can easily suspend disbelief, instead of grouchy cynics like me.