So B. It
by Weeks, Sarah

Living with her mentally disabled mother who only knows just over twenty words, young Heidi has learned to live in her special world until a new word is suddenly used and repeated by her mother; causing Heidi to think it might be a key to a secret past about which she knows so little. Reprint.

/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 4-7. Thirteen-year-old Heidi lives a sheltered but rich life in Reno with her developmentally disabled mother, So B. It, and their agoraphobic neighbor, Bernadette, who takes care of them. The pair arrived on Bernie's doorstep 13 years ago, and because So B. It's vocabulary consists of only 23 words, Bernie has never been able to figure out where she and her mother came from or if they have any other family. Bernie homeschools Heidi, who is intelligent, determined, and energetic. One day while cleaning a closet, Heidi discovers an old camera with film inside. When the photos are developed, they find a young, pregnant So B. It at Hilltop Home for the Disabled, in Liberty, New York. Determined to solve the mystery of her mother, Heidi sets out alone on a cross-country bus trip. There are obvious resemblances to Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons (1994), but Weeks has a distinctive voice that's all her own. Her fully dimensional characters are remarkable yet believable, and although readers may guess the truth about Heidi's family before she does, the foreshadowing builds to a beautifully satisfying ending. An especially nice device is the chapter titles: each is one of So B. It's 23 words. This is lovely writing-real, touching, and pared cleanly down to the essentials. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Resilient Heidi It is the daughter of mentally deficient So B. It, but it's really neighbor Bernadette who raises her. Piling on the difficulties, Bernadette is agoraphobic and though managing to reach out to So B. and Heidi without leaving her house, Dette is unable to do anything like normal living. Heidi is homeschooled by Bernadette and finds her unusual life to be satisfactory except for curiosity about her mother's past, as evidenced by "soof," her favorite of Mama's 23 words that also function as chapter titles. Determined to investigate the past, Heidi follows a few convenient clues to lead her on a cross-country bus journey from Reno, Nevada, to Liberty, New York. Some of the details, such as Heidi's lucky streak, are not terribly credible, but the heart of the search for home and history is one that readers will find compelling. Most of the people Heidi meets on her trip gradually take on fullness and depth, but this was never intended to be literal or realistic. Three stars on the soggy-hanky index. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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