Where'd You Go Bernadette Author:Maria Semple Bernadette Fox has vanished. When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fund... more »raiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces. Which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where'd You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are, and the power of a daughter's love for her mother.« less
I had a hard time rating this one. It started off amusing, then the catiness b/w the moms got a little too much for me, but then all of the clues revealing what happened to Bernadette really picks up. I was let down by the way the story ended it felt rushed. However, Im tacking on an extra star for the simple fact that as annoying as I found some of the characters to be, I must admit they were very realistic. Unfortunately, I knew some people that behaved just like some of the characters in this book. Though this being true is not a good thing, the author deserves the extra star for describing such believable (and at times, pathetic)characters. These types of people arent isolated to just Seattle! You dont have to be familiar with the city to enjoy this read.
3.5 stars. This is a quirky book told from the daughter's perspective. It's a compilation of e-mails, faxes, articles and letters regarding her mother Bernadette. I loved the format and really enjoyed unraveling the mystery of Bernadette. Although the ending was good, it could have been better.
This is a farcical satire about Seattlites, and really the general pacific northwest vibe, because it could have been set in Portland with a few minor changes. Bernadette and her husband, Elgin, both grew up on the other coast with the boarding school set, then acclimated to L.A. as young adults, before fleeing to Seattle after something bad happened. (Unlike some other books that have pissed me off, this "horrible" event really was pretty horrible.)
Bernadette hates everything about Seattle, while Elgin has discovered his inner (in Bernadette's words) "bike riding, Subaru driving, Keen wearing" alter-ego. (I'm guilty on two of those three counts and working on the third.) In fact, Bernadette hates pretty much everything, except her gifted 14-year-old daughter, Bee. Since Bee has maintained excellent grades all the way through her pretentious, progressive K-8 school, her parents have promised her anything she wants and what Bee wants is a trip to Antarctica. But right before their scheduled departure, Bernadette disappears.
The book consists mostly of e-mails, letters, and other written communications between various characters, including two moms from Bee's school (who Bernadette refers to as "gnats"). I liked this best, although I thought Semple's language was far too descriptive for ordinary communications. Unifying all these pieces was occasional narration from Bee, which I wasn't as crazy about. Usually, I like precocious narrators, but Bee annoyed me for some reason, especially in the last part of the book when the text was almost entirely her narration.
Like her title character, Semple moved from L.A. (where she wrote for Arrested Development and Mad About You) to Seattle, making her a voice of both authority and hilariousness. My fellow PNWers who don't have a problem laughing at our mockable cultural traits will enjoy this fairly light, quick read.
Silly story told through a series of letters, faxes and emails and mostly through the eyes of Bernadette's 15 year old daughter Bee. It took me over halfway through the book to really grasp the characters and get into the story. Probably helps that I lived in Seattle for a couple of years and there is definitely some inside humor that could go over ones head if they have never experienced the Emerald City. But, in the end this book is not about where did Bernadette go, but in fact how much she needed to find herself in order to help her daughter grow.