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.