Friday, March 30, 2007

Let It Be: So B. It by Sarah Weeks

In her novel for mature middle readers, So B. It, Sarah Weeks takes on a situation and subject that few writers would attempt.

Her main character, Heidi, lives an emotionally rich but sharply circumscribed life, cared for and homeschooled by her well-read but agoraphobic neighbor, Bernadette, and her profoundly mentally challenged mother, who calls herself So Be It. Because her mother only speaks twenty-three words, she cannot explain how she appeared with a newborn Heidi at Bernadette's door, dazed and disheveled, with only one small suitcase.

As she turns twelve and begins to wonder if her origins will ever be knowable, Heidi instinctively feels that the key lies in the word "soof," which her mother uses rarely but with obvious feeling. When an old camera turns up in a closet, Heidi discovers clues in the photos from the film inside. The snapshots show a pregnant So Be It with a woman wearing a Christmas sweater which Heidi still has and a place called Hilltop House, in Liberty, New York. With her lucky slot machine winnings and a lot of courage, Heidi determines to take off on a cross-country bus to New York to uncover her connections to Hilltop House and to the people in the photograph. Heidi arrives, an unwelcome visitor, but persists in her questions until secrets are revealed which change the lives of all involved.

Although a part of the novel's appeal lies in its unsolved mystery, the central theme deals with the search for truth and the corollary that not all things in life are truly knowable. Sarah Week's writing is simple and sure, and the story grows more compelling as Heidi begins to understand who she is and the chain of love that has made her whole. So B. It is a book for those readers who are perceptive enough to understand that love is always the same and yet expressed in very different ways.



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