Sunday, April 28, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

By: Maria Semple

Rating: 5 Stars

Who Should Read This Book: Satire anyone? Looking for a book that will make you laugh, cringe, and have your mouth drop open from shocking, hysterical scenes? This one is for you!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.

My Thoughts:
I thought this book to be hysterical. The satire jumps out at the reader within minutes of reading, and the author, Semple, did an amazing job at never losing the clear understanding of what she was trying to accomplish. Bernadette is this quirky, neurotic, brilliant mother living in "horrible" Seattle. She just can't seem to shake the hate for the city she resides in, and is constantly telling everyone she emails just how awful it really is. Her life used to consist of creating wonderful works of architecture and is now dwindled to dropping and picking her daughter up from school, emailing a woman in India to do her errands for her, and criticizing the "gnats" that keep bothering her, from her daughter's school. The author brilliantly shaped and molded this book from various viewpoints including, Bee, the smart, lovable daughter of Bernadette, and Audrey, who from the first encounter is so clearly uptight the reader will want to give her a Xanax and tell her to stop letting what society says is "right" to dictate her life! Even Soo-Lin, Audrey's friend that the reader meets through emails and also through her interaction at Microsoft with Bernadette's husband, is unaware of her surroundings. She lives life in a fairy tale until it comes shattering down and she realizes that she has been manipulating things in her head to fit to the standard that makes her happy.

This book is so full of misunderstanding that it made me take a second to look at myself. I wondered if I sounded as ridiculous or paranoid in my daily life as some of the characters in the book did. Bee seems to be the most sane of all, and she is in middle school. Although, the relationship that she shares with her mother is endearing and reminds me so much of my relationship with my own mother. They understand each other, and aren't afraid to be completely honest with one another. When everyone else assumes that Bee is too young still to be told exactly what is going on, Bernadette makes sure that her daughter gets the full, unbelievable story. Even with all of her flaws, Bernadette can definitely be a level headed women whose intelligence really shines.

I think what really makes this book great is the realization that everyone comes to. Each character learns a valuable lesson and starts to come to the realization that there is no perfect mold to fit your life into. Through each of the characters, whether it be through email, one-on-one conversations, itinerary sheets, or from the viewpoint of Bee and her mom, the author did an amazing job of tying everyone together. You will definitely see how human the characters really are, and even though some of the missteps each one has is over the top, completely hysterical and unfathomable, there is still this realism to the situation. It was very easy to put myself into their shoes; to picture it really happening. I felt better about all the quirks I have because each of the characters had at least a couple; at least!

This book is extremely entertaining and will definitely be passed around to a lot of my friends. I hope others to get as much enjoyment out of it as I did. This was a book I raced through due to the overwhelming funny, intense, and flawed characters. It would be a great summer read actually, and one you will be so disappointed to finish.



  1. I absolutely loved this book. I thought it was so clever and funny (and I don't laugh easily). Also I very much enjoyed the odd/quirky dynamics in Bernadette's family.

    1. I found myself laughing out loud from all the craziness going on in Bernadette's head! She was so quirky, which I loved! Glad to hear you enjoyed it as well! If you know of any books that are similar to this one in writing or humor I would be forever grateful for the suggestions!

    2. Yeah, Bernadette is truly a piece of work. And I also liked this whole affair with the other school mums (Audrey was also an interesting character). I definitely also want to read something similar in future (and lots of it! :D).