So B. It

( 397 )

Overview

After spending her life with her mentally retarded mother and agoraphobic neighbor, twelve-year-old Heidi sets out from Reno, Nevada, to New York to find out who she is.

From the bestselling author of "Regular Guy" comes a novel about a young girl living in Reno with her mentally disabled mother who, haunted by a mysterious word in her mother's 23-word vocabulary, embarks on a cross-country journey.

...
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Overview

After spending her life with her mentally retarded mother and agoraphobic neighbor, twelve-year-old Heidi sets out from Reno, Nevada, to New York to find out who she is.

From the bestselling author of "Regular Guy" comes a novel about a young girl living in Reno with her mentally disabled mother who, haunted by a mysterious word in her mother's 23-word vocabulary, embarks on a cross-country journey.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Heidi knows that she's approximately 12 years old, but she doesn't know her last name, her birthday, or, for that matter, the identity of her father. With a vocabulary of only two dozen words, her mentally disabled mother can't help Heidi fill the gaps in her history, but simple despair will not stop this little trooper. When she finds a camera full of old photographs, she begins a quest that will take her into the past and new beginnings. A mature, gripping story.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A quick and satisfying tale of love, determination, and the kindness of strangers."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“A quick and satisfying tale of love, determination, and the kindness of strangers.”
New York Times Book Review
“A remarkable novel. [Heidi’s] cross-country journey is brave and daring and yields surprising results.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“A quick and satisfying tale of love, determination, and the kindness of strangers.”
Publishers Weekly
Heidi It has gotten to be 12 years old without knowing any but the sketchiest information about her background: her mentally disabled mother, who insists her name is So Be It, showed up with the week-old Heidi on their neighbor Bernadette's doorstep seemingly out of the clear blue sky, and Bernadette, who is severely agoraphobic but also bookish and generous, has been looking out for Heidi and Mama ever since. Somehow Heidi and Mama never get billed for rent or utilities, and besides, Heidi has an almost magical ability to play slot machines, which, in their native Reno, can be found even in the local Sudsy Duds laundromat. But as the novel opens, Heidi has begun to chafe-she is no longer willing to live with Bernadette's complacency about the mysterious past ("What happened before [I met you] doesn't matter," Bernadette tells Heidi. "It's just something to be grateful for") and Heidi is determined to find out what Mama means by the strange word "soof." When Heidi uncovers an old camera with a roll of undeveloped film, a host of clues to her identity send her on a solo cross-country bus trip to confront people who not only do not expect her but have taken pains to insulate themselves from her existence. Suspension of belief is beside the point: readers will probably respond to Heidi's voice and determination, get caught up in the mystery and feel wiser for the mild tear-jerker ending. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Weeks presents a quirky story with a compelling voice and intriguing characters. Twelve-year-old Heidi and her retarded mother are cared for by their neighbor in the next apartment, Bernadette. Bernie, who has not gone outside since her father died many years before, needs them as much as they need her. But when Heidi gets some old film developed and sees the photos of her mother at "Hilltop Home" in New York, she is determined to discover the mystery of her existence and translate the mysterious expression in her mother's 23-word vocabulary, "soof." After a classic adolescent breaking and reconciliation with Bernie, Heidi strikes out on her own from Reno to New York by bus. Armed with two sandwiches, two Devil Dogs and her amazing good luck—she can win the slots, any lottery, or "guess how many in the jar" contest—she makes it to Hilltop and is stunned at what she finds about her family. At a deeper level, she discovers that "whether you know something or not doesn't change what was" and that perhaps you should be grateful for what, and who, you have. Part of the delight in this book is meeting the characters Heidi discovers on her quest, not to mention Heidi and Bernie themselves. Reminiscent of Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie, it is an enjoyable and thought provoking read. 2004, Laura Geringer Books/HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12.
—Kathryn Erskine
KLIATT
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2004: Heidi has had a most unusual childhood. She lives with her mother, who is severely mentally handicapped, in Reno, Nevada. Next door in the apartment house is a loving woman, Bernadette, who takes care of them but suffers from agoraphobia and cannot leave the apartment. Many years ago, Bernadette found the infant Heidi and her bewildered young mother on her doorstep, neither one able to explain who they are. For years, the three of them have managed, using Bernadette's coping skills and Heidi's growing independence and capability. (All the practical details of how this odd trio copes with everyday life are explained throughout the story, and they are quite fascinating.) Heidi finds an old camera with film in it hidden away in a drawer, and she gets the photographs developed: they reveal a Christmas party, with the name of a place, and Heidi's young mother in one of the pictures—all clues to the identities of Heidi and her mother, who calls herself So B. It. Heidi becomes obsessed with these clues and Bernadette does what she can by telephone to get to the truth. Heidi decides she must travel by herself by bus across the country. Bernadette can't really stop her, so she supports her and monitors Heidi's progress through telephone calls. Once Heidi meets the man who was Santa in one of the lost photos, nothing is easy, because this man doesn't want to help her in any way. Fortunately, through the kindness of the receptionist at the home and the local policeman, Heidi is cared for, and finally the truth about her parents and grandparents is revealed. This belongs with other stories of unusual journeys, literal and figurative ones.Since Heidi is so young (12 years old), and her journey is ultimately one of revelation about her family, I think it can be compared to Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons. An ALA Best Book for YAs. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, HarperCollins, 245p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Heidi and her mother have lived in an apartment that adjoins with their neighbor, Bernadette, since the 12-year-old was probably no more than a week old. Bernadette accepted and loved them from the moment they arrived at her door but could never ask questions since Heidi's mentally challenged mother simply "didn't have the words to answer them." Bernadette's agoraphobia further isolates the child. Heidi struggles with knowing nothing about her father or her family history, and never having a real last name. Then she finds an old camera, which prompts her quest to learn the identity of the people in the photographs it holds and to discover her past. While traveling by bus from Nevada to Liberty, NY, the girl relies on her luck, instinct, and the people she meets on the way to learn the truth about her mother and her own background. Readers will pull for and empathize with the likable characters, especially Heidi as she struggles for self-knowledge. The almost melodramatic story has fantasy elements such as Heidi's lucky streak; hitting a slot machine enables her to buy the bus ticket to New York. Heidi's naive voice, however, creates a willing suspension of disbelief as she learns what she set out to and matures along the way.-Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus 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)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A quick and satisfying tale of love, determination, and the kindness of strangers.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A quick and satisfying tale of love, determination, and the kindness of strangers.”
New York Times Book Review
“A remarkable novel. [Heidi’s] cross-country journey is brave and daring and yields surprising results.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780066236223
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/27/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 635,528
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Weeks is an author, singer, and songwriter. Her many books for young readers include the My First I Can Read Book Splish, Splash!, illustrated by Ashley Wolff, and the I Can Read Books Mac and Cheese, Baa-Choo!, Pip Squeak, and Drip, Drop, all illustrated by Jane Manning. She lives in upstate New York.

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Read an Excerpt

So B. It


By Weeks, Sarah

Laura Geringer Book

ISBN: 0066236223

Heidi

If truth was a crayon and it was up to me to put a wrapper around it and name its color, I know just what I would call it—dinosaur skin. I used to think, without really thinking about it, that I knew what color that was. But that was a long time ago, before I knew what I know now about both dinosaur skin and the truth.

The fact is, you can't tell squat about the color of an animal just from looking at its bones, so nobody knows for sure what color dinosaurs really were. For years I looked at pictures of them, trusting that whoever was in charge of coloring them in was doing it based on scientific fact, but the truth is they were only guessing. I realized that one afternoon, sitting in the front seat of Sheriff Roy Franklin's squad car, the fall before I turned thirteen.

Another thing I found out right around that same time is that not knowing something doesn't mean you're stupid. All it means is that there's still room left to wonder. For instance about dinosaurs—were they the same color as the sky the morning I set off for Liberty? Or were they maybe the same shade of brown as the dust my shoes kicked up on the driveway at Hilltop Home?

I'd be lying if I said that given a choice, I wouldn't rather know than not know. But there are some things you can just know for no good reason other than that you do, and then there are other things that no matter how badly you want to know them, you just can't. The truth is, whether you know something or not doesn't change what was. If dinosaurs were blue, they were blue; if they were brown, they were brown whether anybody ever knows it for a fact or not.

Continues...

Excerpted from So B. It by Weeks, Sarah Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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First Chapter

So B. It
Heidi

If truth was a crayon and it was up to me to put a wrapper around it and name its color, I know just what I would call it—dinosaur skin. I used to think, without really thinking about it, that I knew what color that was. But that was a long time ago, before I knew what I know now about both dinosaur skin and the truth.

The fact is, you can't tell squat about the color of an animal just from looking at its bones, so nobody knows for sure what color dinosaurs really were. For years I looked at pictures of them, trusting that whoever was in charge of coloring them in was doing it based on scientific fact, but the truth is they were only guessing. I realized that one afternoon, sitting in the front seat of Sheriff Roy Franklin's squad car, the fall before I turned thirteen.

Another thing I found out right around that same time is that not knowing something doesn't mean you're stupid. All it means is that there's still room left to wonder. For instance about dinosaurs—were they the same color as the sky the morning I set off for Liberty? Or were they maybe the same shade of brown as the dust my shoes kicked up on the driveway at Hilltop Home?

I'd be lying if I said that given a choice, I wouldn't rather know than not know. But there are some things you can just know for no good reason other than that you do, and then there are other things that no matter how badly you want to know them, you just can't. The truth is, whether you know something or not doesn't change what was. If dinosaurs were blue, they were blue; if they were brown, they were brown whether anybody ever knows it for a fact or not.

So B. It. Copyright © by Sarah Weeks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

About the Book

When she is an infant, Heidi and her mentally disabled mother arrive rain drenched at the doorstep of Bernadette, who suffers from agoraphobia. Throughout Heidi's childhood, Bernadette takes good care of Heidi and her mother, but eventually Heidi begins to question her past and the mysterious word her mother constantly repeats: "Soof." Each time Heidi asks Bernadette where she and Mama came from, Bernadette simply answers that the day they walked into her life was the best thing that ever happened to her. When Heidi finds an old camera and develops the film, she sees glimpses of her family's past in the pictures. Twelve-year-old Heidi then sets out on a cross-country bus trip to find answers to her many questions. What she discovers will not only change the way she lives, but forever change how she views life.

Discussion Questions

  1. The Title, So B. It, could have several meanings. What do you think the title means?
  2. Bernadette selflessly and patiently takes care of Heidi and her mother, who both need a caretaker. Why do you think she is willing to spend her time and money on people she does not know? What benefits, if any, does Bernie receive?
  3. As a young child, Heidi has tremendous responsibilities; shopping with her mother, running errands for Bernie, and baby-sitting for a neighbor to earn money. How do these experiences influence Heidi as she grows up?
  4. When Heidi develops the mysterious roll of film and brings the pictures home to view, Bernie asks her, "What's the worst it could be?" Heidi responds: "nothing. The worst would be if there was nothing" (p50).Why would nothing have been the worst thing for Heidi to find?
  5. Heidi is afraid she will end up like her mother, full of missing pieces, if she does not go to Liberty to discover her past (p85). Do you think that taking this journey is worth the pain it causes Bernie?
  6. Heidi is afraid to take the trip to Liberty alone, and several times en route she is ready to turn around and return home to Bernie. What is the driving force that keeps her on the road to Liberty? Does she have any regrets. If so, what are they?
  7. When Heidi lies to Alice, she realizes her lies are unnecessary but that she doesn't feel remorseful until she gets caught (p117). What do you think this indicates about Heidi's character and her search for identity?
  8. Heidi realizes she doesn't miss her dad because she has never known him, therefore life without him seems normal. She tells Georgia, "You can't miss what you don't remember having" (p126). Do you think this is true? Why or why not? What are some experiences you have longed for even though you have never had them.
  9. Ruby tells Heidi that it probably doesn't mean anything that Elliot says "soof" regularly, but Heidi says, "I think everything means something, even when you don't know what it is" (p181-182). Based on Heidi's life experiences, how would you support her belief?
  10. Roy and Ruby cannot understand why Mr. Hill is not telling the truth about Heidi's mother. But even though Heidi does not know why, she knows that "sometimes people lie because the truth is too hard to admit" (p201). What truth is Mr. Hill afraid to admit? How do the choices he made affect Heidi's life?
  11. Mr. Hill tells Heidi that someday he would like to know her (p240). Do you think Heidi will ever allow him to know her? How do you think she will get to know her father, Elliot?
  12. One of the lessons Heidi learns is that life is not fair. Discuss the people and events in Heidi's life, and list the ones that are unfair. How do these life experiences help Heidi become a stronger person?
  13. Until Heidi's trip to Liberty, she lives a sheltered life with only one friend and very little communication with anyone other than Bernie. Even though Bernie teaches her a multitude of lessons, do you think Heidi's social development suffers? How do you think Heidi will adjust to attending school for the first time in junior high? What hurdles will she have to overcome?
  14. In chapter one, Heidi says, "I'd be lying if I said that given a choice I wouldn't rather know than not know." What does Heidi learn about knowing and not knowing on her journey to find her identity?
  15. After Heidi's journey to learn about her personal history ends, her lucky streak seems to disappear. What is the significance of Heidi losing her luck?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 397 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(304)

4 Star

(55)

3 Star

(22)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 400 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2011

    Wow

    I personaly cried my eyes out at the end if the book! Now every time when I read this book I will ask myself, WHY is life so Cruel. I BEG YOU TO READ THIS!!!!

    25 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2010

    Awesome Book For Kids!

    Sarah Weeks does a phenominal job writing about Heidi a girl who is unsure of her past. Heidi doesn't know her father, her mothers name, let alone her birthday!Heidi lives in an apartment with her mother who claims her self to be "So B. It" is mentally disabled and her apartment neighbor Bernadette who comes through a door which that seperates the two apartments. Bernadette has home schooled Heidi has an aphobia were she is frightened to go outside she says something terribly bad would happen. "So. B. It" has one word she says constantly. Soof. Heidi is so determined to find out what soof is that she embarks on a remarkable journey from Reno Nevada to Liberty New York to Hilltop Home; A Place a picture found in her apartments junk drawer where her mother stayed. Hilltop Home is a rehabilitation home for the mentally disabled. Heidi thinks Hilltop Home may still have her mothers records where Heidi may find her mothers past let alone hers. Heidi find out way more than she expected. Heidi also has her 1st experience with death. Sarah Weeks has a great imagination to write a story great as So B. It. 5 stars for Sarah Weeks!

    21 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2009

    This book is the best book I have ever read!

    I loved this book so much. Infact, i Just got done reading it today! When I got to the chapter called Uh-oh, from then on, I cried through the book, it has been the only story I think I have cried for. I love this book!! I suggest it for all 11-13 year olds!! Love it love it!!

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    The Truth Speaker

    So B. It is an amazing book! I have read it 7 times and loved it every time! There's one part that makes you cry but it really is a good story. It made me laugh, cry, and slide to the edge of my seat. !!!!!!I WOULD TOTALLY RECOMEND IT!!!!!

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    the good point of veiw of so b. it

    hey i think that so b it is an very inspiring novel is great and is has great lessons and a great moral if your looking for a book to read to pass the time by read so b it it just sucks you into the book parents if you have work or are driving or something give your kids this book to read it will keep them quiet for a good while it was so good i read for a whole day it was just that good you should definetly read so b it

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2009

    So B. It

    By Sarah Weeks review by Mitchell Benson
    So B. It has one word that really describes it, truth. The idea that you can't know everything sticks throughout the story as well. Heidi, the main character is 12 and lives with Bernadette, a adopted mother and her bum brain mama. Heidi lives in Reno Nevada and is all consumed by her curiosity about her mama's word soof. Soof haunts Heidi and it seems like she will never find the meaning until one day she finds a old Kodak camera. After she has the pictures developed she learns that her mama lived in Liberty, New York she thinks she will find some answers there. After deciding to go on a bus to Liberty she uses a bit of her luck (she's real sweet with the slots) to get some cash. She then travels cross country over thousands of miles on a bus to find the truth in her world.

    I liked this book because it had a good moral, you can't know everything. I really think this applies to all people because what point is there to live if you already know everything? It also has a good story line that kept me reading the entire time. My favorite part is when Heidi is on the bus and makes several friends and learns a lot about lying from doing so.

    One down side to So B. It is that it doesn't have much humor and has some very sad parts. It also doesn't really have any amazing descriptions or metaphors but it really makes you look into yourself and do some deep thinking. I would recommend this book to any one who wants to learn about their virtues and have a wonderful read.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012

    Amazing read!!!

    This book made me sob my eyes out but I was drawn to it the whole time it was in my reach. This novel is a perfect example of sceptical, beautiful, cruel life. Once you pick up this book you will be unable to set it down. I am dead serious, you would bring it on your honey moon if thats what it came down to. It is sad, yes but I strongley advise poking your nose in the one and only: So B It. No matter your age or gender

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2012

    AMAZING!

    I LOVE SO B IT! IT GETS SAD IN SOME AREAS BUT I RECCOMEND IT TO EVERYONE WHO ENJOYS FICTION
    READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!;)

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

    I LOVED IT

    I totally cried and sobbed at some parts it was so awesome like the hunger games so if u like it read the hunger games

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    Inspirational.

    This book is so touching. It really gives you a different view on the mentally disabled. I bawled my eyes out towards the end. It IS definitely the best book I have EVER read. Please read it too!!!!!!!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    I read this book for the first time when I was somewhat young, a

    I read this book for the first time when I was somewhat young, around middle school. I remember it was easy to understand and very sweet and cute. Now that I've gotten a little older (17), I can see it for what it is- a girl desperate to know her roots, and her father specifically, rushes across the country to find something that's alluded her for her whole life, a small one syllable word that her mother says 'soof'. Of course the ending made me bawl my eyes out but i appreciate this book for what it is- a triumph in the eyes of inevitable and almost undying adversity. Go Heidi :)

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2011

    Best book ever!!!

    Omg i seriously love this book. I also read it in 4th grade. It was so amazing. I loved every single word of the book. And when i got to a couple of parts, i cried. You geel like you are in the book. You feel for the characters. You love them. When they are in trouble or if something happens, you feel it too. Absolutely the best book i have ever read. EVER. You should really get this book. Truly amazing!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    Anomynous

    This is the best book I have ever read. It's about a girl named Heidi, and she goes on a long trip to find out where she came from. The rest of the book will be a suprise. So you should get this book and read it. You won't regret it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I've read about half of this book and I am loving it!

    I've read about half of this book and I am loving it!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    Wonderful

    Let me just tell you first that I don't like reading. Not one bit. This book is different though. I just couldn't put it down. Such an amazing book. I have read it about five times now!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2009

    This is a great book for both adults and teens.

    This great book is about a little girl named Heidi. Heidi has a mentally challenged mother and struggles to take care of her. So she met a person who took them in. Although her mother can't talk she only knows 23 words. But there is a word that she says that drives Heidi nuts. She can't figure out what it means but goes on a trip to find out.
    This book is great for people who love sad stories but yet it's happy and joyful. The book uses great grammar and helps the reader understand the books purpose. It also has a great suspense. I would say people over the sixth grade. The more challenged readers could read this though. People who do not like sad stories should not read this book.
    Well I would have to say this is one of my all time faves. As soon as you read the first page you're hooked from start to finish. The book itself it wonderful and so is the author Sarah Weeks. You will not be able to turn your back on this book for more than a second. It's full of surprises!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    So b. It

    So b. It is the best book i have ever read! My mother and I read it at the same time and it was so sad to read because i thought what if i was like this what if i didnt no my birthday or no my dad the mood was very suspensful i recommend this book to each kind of sex and not only kids

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2010

    A great book to read with your kids at night!

    My daughter and I loved this book- the mama was endearing and the daughter was sweet. You couldn't help but feel for her. I want to meet these people. A great book for teaching character lessons- patience, friendship, kindness and love.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I read this book for a college book club. Being an education major, I found this book very interesting and a good book to use for fourth to sixth grade students when introducing the genre of real life fiction. Overall a very good, yet sad, read.

    This is a great book for anyone who is in the educational field or who is interested in mental impariments. This book can be used as a good book club book for fourth to sixth grade students as long as the fourth and fifth grade groups are monitered and are mature enough to understand mental imparements. It is also a good coming of age story that students who are adopted can relate with . This book does have a sadish ending so I would make sure that you either follow or lead this book with a happier story. This is a qucik read for adult readers and has nice short chapters for younger reader. Overall, I would recomend this book.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2008

    so sad i cried

    it was sad .her mom died and then the book pretty much ended ,this book should be rewriten with a happy ending

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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