Where'd You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple
Published: August 14, 2012
Genres: Adult Fiction
Format: eBook (330 pages)
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a literary book that is full of witty, intelligent humor. The voice of the teenage girl, Bee, who narrates this book is delightful and sarcastic especially about some of the crappy things that happen to her. I love the humor of the unpopularity of Bee’s dad working at Microsoft where they are “acronym-happy (pg. 123).” Bee has a sweet personality, too. She is collecting letters, emails, transcripts, and blog posts in this journal that she is writing about where her mother went. I ADORE the blog post that Bee puts in the book that is 500 words long and literally all the post says is that it’s going to rain. Ah to love something that much that you could write 500 words about the smallest detail.
The writing is amazing in this book. I don’t think there is a single cliche thing said in the entire book. There’s a scene where people freeze as they stare at an argument. But does she just say that they froze? No. She describes them as this:
Nobody had moved. Some hands were frozen in midair, in the middle of doing a fold. It looked like a wax museum diorama of an origami presentation.
– Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette pg 275
I love it. This was an example of the ultimate show not tell with everything from the unique structure of emails, faxes, and letters, to the writing itself. Where’d You Go, Bernadette was very entertaining and full of personality.
The crazy small community that this story is set in was hilarious and it kind of reminded me of the small town charm and quirkiness of Gilmore Girls. This book was full of interesting characters. Literally all of them exaggerate. We get to see different perspectives and how each character tends to bend the story a little in their favor to make themselves the victim.
I learned so much from the character of Bernadette. She showed me that creativity is sometimes found within extreme limits. I admired her ability to use her interpersonal skills to help her thrive in the male dominated professions of architecture. Remember to embrace your talents – even the weird ones – and use them to do something you love that no one else can do. I also loved the theme of Bernadette getting lost literally and figuratively in motherhood which I found very relatable. Even though Bernadette doesn’t say this particular quote, I think it describes motherhood perfectly.
I felt so alone in this world, and so loved at the same time.
– Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette pg. 199
Overall, it was a impeccably written and hilarious story full of fascinating characters that taught me a lot about embracing your talents – even the weird ones.
Content Rating: High, for some strong language – about a dozen or more f-words.
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