Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by 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 fundraiser 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. 

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Format: Kindle
Length: 330 pages

First off, long time no see. I know I’ve been pretty absent. That’s partially because I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter series so I haven’t really read any new books. I’ve also been spending my commutes listening to podcasts instead of audiobooks because I need some comedy to start and end the day with.

I put this book on hold months ago after seeing the trailer for the movie. All I have to say is wow, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that was so vastly different from what I was expecting. I didn’t know anything about this book before I read it. I had seen the trailer for the upcoming movie and the book was way different.

Like the overall story I guess is the same. But the trailer made me think the pacing of this story would be much different. And I just have to say, either that trailer spoils the entire movie, or the movie will be completely different. I’m hesitant to say anything further about that because I don’t want to spoil the progression / ending of the book.

Anyway, the story is told through a series of emails, letters, and documents, as well as through Bernadette’s daughter Bee’s perspective. I really love stories that do this, and I don’t think I’ve read one since I was a kid. (I think Illuminae is told like this? I own that book, I should probably read it…)

This book is fucking hilarious. If you’re expecting generic “chick-lit” (and I feel gross even saying that word because holy sexism Batman), then you’re in for a surprise. This book is full on satire. I’m pretty sure there were at least three times that I burst out laughing.

Maria Semple also masterfully makes you hate every single character, but still want to keep reading. Usually I struggle staying interested in a book if there’s more than two or three characters that I don’t like. In this, I hated everyone and I was here for it.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I’m interested to see the movie when it comes out next week. I wonder how different it will be from the book, and how it will handle the different mode of storytelling, since the story is mostly told through emails.

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