Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #159: So B. It by Sarah Weeks

9780066236223

Weeks, I like a story about society’s lovable outcasts as much as the next person. Forrest Gump, for instance, is one of my favorite movies. Conversely, however, I don’t like feeling as if my emotions are being manipulated, and that is the impression I got from your novel, So B. It. Heidi, our narrator, has a mother who’s mentally disabled. She knows only 23 words, goes by the name So B. It (making Heidi, Heidi It), and is not fit to raise Heidi on her own.

How does Heidi grow up to be a relatively normal and well-adjusted child, though, despite her genes making that a miracle in its own right? An agoraphobic woman by the name of Bernadette cares for them. How does she pay her bills, as well as theirs, when she’s incapable of leaving the apartment, even to help Heidi, who’s like a daughter to her? From what I remember, Weeks never bothers to answer that.

What’s important is Heidi grows up with a mentally disabled mother, and an agoraphobic woman who handles the motherly duties that mother cannot. In Chuck Lorre’s hands, this would make for the perfect sitcom, which I think I would prefer to this more serious take on it, given the unlikelihood of such a living situation working out.

Especially when Bernadette allows Heidi, who’s only 12 years old, take a cross-country trip on her own, which isn’t even legal at her age, which Bernadette is aware of when she decides to give in and let her go. She can barely scrounge up enough money for Heidi to afford the cab she plans on taking to her destination after she gets off the bus. Not to worry, though; Heidi can get by with a string of luck that I’m fairly certain is, more or less, mathematically impossible.  At first I thought she was some sort of Rain Man, given what her mother’s like, but her “luck” was not limited to counting and the like, so there went there went that hypothesis.

No, Heidi is just unbelievably lucky… until she isn’t any longer, and her “luck” is seemingly passed on to someone else. In short, were it not for her “luck,” which is what helped her acquire the money for the bus, and Bernadette not being against child endangerment, Heidi’s journey to figure out the meaning of her mother’s word “soof” would’ve ended before, well… before she could say “soof.” The journey itself, once you get past that, makes for a nice enough little story, but that is a lot to get past. I couldn’t. Then again, maybe you can, and if you think so, then go ahead and read it. I see no reason why you shouldn’t like it.

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