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Literature / So B. It

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In this award-winning tale by Sarah Weeks, 12-year-old Heidi doesn't know when her birthday is or who her father is. In fact, everything about Heidi and her mentally disabled mother's past is a mystery. When a strange word in her mother's vocabulary begins to haunt her, Heidi sets out on a cross-country journey in search of the secrets of her past. It was made into a movie in 2016, directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal. A companion novel, Soof, was published in 2018.

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Tropes in this work:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Heidi is brunette and blue-eyed in the book, but in the movie she’s blonde and brown-eyed.
  • Adapted Out: College freshman Georgia Sweet doesn’t appear in the movie.
  • Adult Fear:
    • A twelve year old traveling unaccompanied across the country without parental consent.
    • An intellectually disabled child getting pregnant or fathering a child.
    • Dying suddenly and with no back up plan for an intellectually disabled adult and her new baby.
    • A loved one dying while you’re out of town
  • Affectionate Nickname: Bernadette often refers to So B. It as “Precious.” In turn So B. It refers to Bernadette as “Dette.”
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Heidi naturally has questions about her origins, and gets frustrated by her mothers limits and Bernadette’s agoraphobia.
  • Alliterative Name: Diane DeMuth.
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  • Babies Ever After: Roy and Ruby have a daughter, who they name Aurora at Heidi’s suggestion.
  • Bad Liar:
    • Heidi’s neighbor, Zander, often tells outlandish stories. Heidi doesn’t think they really happened, but she likes to listen to them anyway to see if there’s any truth to what Zander says.
    • Heidi herself embellishes the truth while chatting with her bus neighbor Alice. Alice implies that she knows Heidi isn’t telling the truth and they spend the rest of the bus ride in silence.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Heidi finds the answers she’s looking for, finds more family members, and later lives a more normal life. Bernadette is even recovering as an agoraphobic, but So B. It dies.
  • Born Lucky: Heidi has a seemingly lucky streak. Mostly she uses it to play the slot machines to earn a little extra money. Heidi loses her lucky streak after her mother dies.
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  • Bury Your Disabled: Sophia dies while Heidi is across the country.
  • Bus Crash: Heidi’s maternal grandmother, Diane, was hit by a bus and killed.
  • Character Title: The title, So B. It, refers to Heidi’s mother and what Bernadette interprets to be her name.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Heidi had to grow up rather fast thanks to her mothers handicaps, but more so after she travels across the country to figure out her origins.
  • Daddy's Girl: According to Heidi, Bernadette and her father were very close and her agoraphobia kicked in right around the same time he died.
  • Disappeared Dad: Sophia’s dad was long gone by the time Heidi was born, and Diane was prepared to take care of them both.
  • Doesn't Know Their Own Birthday: Due to circumstance, Heidi spends the first twelve years of her life not knowing her exact birthdate, though Bernadette accurately guesses that Heidi was born within the first two weeks of February.
  • Education Mama: Bernadette takes it upon herself to tutor Heidi.
  • Friendless Background: Thanks to her upbringing, Heidi doesn’t have any friends her age, not including her neighbor Zander.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: When Thurman learned that Sophia was pregnant by Elliot, he assumed that the odds of two intellectually disabled adults bringing a healthy child into the world weren’t good. He felt that the pregnancy should be terminated, but Diane insisted that she would be able to raise the baby herself.
  • Happily Adopted: Heidi, when Bernadette officially becomes her legal guardian.
  • Happily Married: Roy and Ruby Franklin.
  • Heroic Bastard: Heidi learns that her parents were never married.
  • It's Always Sunny at Funerals: Sophia’s funeral was on a clear day.
  • Killed Offscreen: In the book, Heidi hears from Bernadette over the phone that her mother died.. Averted in the movie where Bernadette is shown trying to flag down an ambulance, despite her agoraphobia.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: As Heidi learns accidentally, Ruby has suffered a few miscarriages.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Heidi is this for her father's side of the family.
  • Malaproper: To Heidi’s confusion, Bernadette stays that she took to reading and writing “like a duck” when she was a toddler. It’s possible that Bernadette meant that Heidi took to reading and writing like a duck to a puddle.
  • Missing Mom: Elliot’s mother is out of the picture, leaving Thurman to pick up the slack.
  • Mondegreen: Heidi learns that "So B. It" was her mother trying to pronounce her own name, Sophia. Likewise, “Soof” was Elliot’s special name for her.
  • No Antagonist: There is no appointed villain.
  • Nom de Mom: By the end of the book, Heidi goes by her mothers maiden name, De Muth, rather than her fathers surname Hill.
  • Older Than They Look: So B. It looks younger than she is, thanks to her diminutive height.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Heidi doesn’t have any siblings. Later it’s revealed that her parents are both only children themselves.
  • Posthumous Character: Diane. Also overlaps with Small Role, Big Impact.
  • Plucky Girl: Heidi’s pluck motivates her to travel by bus across the country to try and find answers about her past.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Heidi and her mother apparently have their own apartment connecting to Bernadette’s apartment. Heidi wonders how the apartment is paid for when none of them have any real paying jobs. It’s later revealed that Heidi’s grandfather, Thurman Hill, was paying for everything long distance, only the money was running out.
    • Most readers might agree that Heidi, Bernadette, and So B. It couldn’t go on living the way they were forever. Heidi needed to figure out her and her mothers origins and be in school, and Bernadette needed to treat her agoraphobia. Heidi and Bernadette’s quality of life improve once Heidi returns from New York, except it happens without So B. It.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Local sheriff Roy Franklin is this. Also Thurman Hill, owner of Hilltop Home.
  • The Reveal:
    • So B. It’s name is Sophia.
    • Both of Heidi’s parents were intellectually disabled and placed in the same care home.
    • Thurman bribed Diane to take Sophia and give birth in Reno, Nevada.
    • Diane planned on taking care of Sophia and raising Heidi, only she was hit by a bus and killed.
  • The Shut-In: Heidi’s neighbor and unofficial guardian, Bernadette, has crippling agoraphobia.
  • Simpleton Voice: In the movie, So B. It and Elliot have this.
  • Slave to PR: Out of fear that Hilltop Home would be shut down, Thurman Hill went to great lengths to conceal Sophia’s pregnancy by his son Elliot. He later comes to regret this decision, because Elliot and Sophia had a special relationship, even though neither of them had the words to express it.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Played with. Bernadette considered alerting social services when she found So B. It and a then newborn Heidi, but ultimately decided not to because she feared they wouldn’t do right by either of them.
  • Speech Impediment: So B. It only knows twenty three words because of her mental handicap. Elliot isn’t shown to be verbal at all.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Heidi and her mother resemble each other with their brown hair and blue eyes.
  • Teen Pregnancy: In the movie, Diane had Sophia when she was eighteen. Later Sophia has Heidi at the same age.
  • World of No Grandparents: Mostly averted. Thurman is Heidi’s only surviving grandparent.
  • Younger Than They Look: Heidi is tall for her age, and she often uses this to her advantage.
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