Friday, May 24, 2013

Review of "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" [39]

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Back Bay Books, ISBN  978-0316204262
April 2, 2013, 352 pages

Once again, it seems I am the last person in Blogland to read a book.
I read the reviews, and they were all good.
Maybe that is what scared me.
If everyone loves it, I just know I will hate it.
Ok, I was wrong about that, yet once again.
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.
When they say a book is funny, I get nervous.
Humor rarely translates to the written word for me.
But honestly, this book is laugh out loud funny. And sad and touching and sweet and satire at it's best.

Hey, Bernadette has problems, an issue or two, but don't we all? She doesn't really do well with people..I totally get it. The helicopter parents at her daughter school drive her mad...maybe literally, according to their version. Her husband is so obsessed with his job at Microsoft that she appears not to see that their house is falling down around their ears and his wife is dealing with daily life in some rather odd ways.
Like getting a virtual India. Less than $1 an hours! Wow, I wanted one of those, at least until things turned a little bad. Suggestion- do not give your virtual assistant power of attorney.

Most of the book is written as a series of e-mails, letters, faxes, emergency room bills, police reports, FBI investigations, petitions of commitment to a mental institution, which might seem like a bit of a stunt at first, but Semple totally makes it work. One character is better than the next, good and 'bad', they are all so wonderfully and believably painted. The book is fast paced, will garb your attention as we race from rainy Seattle to the frigid land of icebergs and penguins, Antarctica.
Really, how can you not love a book that makes fun of the Microsoft, McMansion culture, has penguins and a sweet story about the love and strength of a pretty quirky family?

If you are the one person out there that has not read this one, I really recommend you grab yourself a copy and get ready for a great read.


  1. I think I must be the last person to read this! I've been dying to get my hands on it for ages, mostly because I'm reading through the Women's Prize Longlist but I've still not got round to this one. I will get there eventually. I feel like everyone is just teasing me with how good it is when I'm dying to read it. I'm glad it lived up to expectations!

    1. ok, you are the official last person to read this!
      not really...

  2. No! I am the official last person to read this book, and that is bad since I had won a copy of this book, a friend saw it on my bookshelf, she said I want to read that book. She has it, I should have read it first, but she will get it read some day and bring it back, until then I will have to hate myself for letting her borrow a book I haven't read yet. Which is something I hardly ever do, is loan a book I haven't read. Bad me!

    1. Lol...very funny, but I must agree, a very bad decision, very short sighted.

  3. The audio of this book is fantastic! Now, I want to go to Antarctica!

  4. I am also the last one to read this book. I've got it on my shelf and plan to read it this summer around the pool!

  5. I've been eyeing this for a long time. Thanks for the recommendation!


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