Where’d You Go, Bernadette

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It’s been a bit of a reading dry spell lately, but I knew I had to get back in the game and stop mourning Harry Potter. This one had been on the list for a while and it got really good reviews, so I tried it out. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple follows a family of three navigating suburban life in Seattle. Mother Bernadette Fox clearly doesn’t fit in with the other moms, or as she refers to them, “gnats.” Despite her Microsoft hot-shot husband and genius eighth-grade daughter named Bee, Bernadette develops a seeming allergy to people and hires a virtual assistant in India due to a colossal failure in her 20s that left her paralyzed. After planning a family trip to Antarctica to celebrate Bee’s report card, Bernadette disappears, leaving only Bee to put together the pieces and bring her mom home safe and sound.

I didn’t think I would like that it’s told through emails, letters, and official documents, but Semple pulled it off with ease. Other than that, my response is meh. Bernadette is a complex and interesting character, but I just wasn’t invested in the plot. The trip to Antarctica was really intriguing, because when does that ever happen!? No one just decides to go on a trip to Antarctica. I do love that about this book. It’s strange in a fun way, but definitely didn’t live up to the hype in my opinion. I have to give it this–it’s pretty funny despite the characters’ somber, underlying troubles. From suburban school theatrics to a blackberry bush stampede to Bernadette’s ventures into the real world, wisecracks and quips are threaded throughout for a level of hilarity that keeps the book from falling flat.

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Author: Rachael

Book lover + editor, feminist, California soul + New York state of mind.

One thought on “Where’d You Go, Bernadette

  1. THis was on my list too! Glad you reviewed it….might have to take it off now or bump it to the bottom.

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