Where'd You Go, Bernadette
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Where'd You Go, Bernadette

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  95,897 ratings  ·  15,103 reviews
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:...more
Hardcover, 324 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (first published June 7th 2012)
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The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenGone Girl by Gillian FlynnWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria SempleThe Round House by Louise ErdrichBilly Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
2013 Tournament of Books
3rd out of 18 books — 138 voters
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenGone Girl by Gillian FlynnThe Round House by Louise ErdrichTell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka BruntThe Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
2013 Tournament of Books Watch List
9th out of 60 books — 337 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jessica Jeffers
A douche canoe that I (probably shouldn't have) dated for a couple months a few years ago once told me that I didn't like Glee because I didn't understand satire. I'd like to hand him this book and say, "Suck on it, asshat."

I suppose that's an entirely different story. The point is, I loved this book. It's sharp, witty, heartwarming, and entirely entertaining. Of course; it came from someone involved with Arrested Development. Should I expect any less?

The first three-fourths of this book are tol...more
Travis Fortney
What we have here is a satirical epistolary novel about a bunch of whiny one percenters in Seattle.

Ms. Semple is sending up Seattle elites, which here seem to be typified by Bernadette's husband Elgie, a granola eating, public transport using, bike riding, Microsoft employee with a genius IQ. She also sets her sights on the students and parents of a Montessori-style preparatory school. I don't feel a particular need to explain what happens, because it's pretty well-traveled stuff.

Where BERNADE...more
Dec 08, 2012 Ashley rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone
Well, let this be a lesson to those who would open their mouths and spew venom into the world. I once wrote very publicly and loudly on this here Goodreads that I could never love a satire -- don't even remember which book I was reviewing*. The point is, this book has made me eat my words. This fucking book, man. I loved it. It's my cheese, my oreo cookie, my soft blanket on a cold winter's night, my let's pack everything up and head out for an adventure because FUCK YEAH WE'RE ALIVE. I'm so gla...more
I figure my best hope of getting more readers than the Cubs have victories is to mention straight away Maria Semple’s bona fides as a satirist. So here it is: she wrote for Arrested Development. Her talent for skewering plays out well in book form, too, as it turns out. Bernadette, the protagonist, is creative, whip-smart, and now that her daughter, Bee, is past some pretty serious childhood health issues, able to devote herself almost entirely to snarky send-ups. The targets are primarily from...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways

Rating: 1.6* of five (p97)

The Book Description: 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...more
This book about Seattle "Subaru Parents" describes my life so chillingly accurately that I am now absolved of writing my own book about their Portland-counterparts' bat-shit antics. Favorites: "Suddenly, Audrey Griffin started running toward the car all stiff and out of rhythm. You could just tell she hadn't run in about ten years." -22. "Perhaps because we both went to prep school and Ivy League universities ourselves, we did not fetishize them like other Seattle parents." -43. "Wooowww," Audre...more
This is my favorite book that I have read in a long while. Is five stars sort of ambitious? IT WOULD BE EXCEPT THIS IS MY FAVORITE BOOK I HAVE READ IN A LONG LONG WHILE. So five stars, I don't care, five stars. Oh my gosh I don't even know where to start you guys. It's funny, but that's not just it. It's incredibly well-written, but that's not just it. It's got a really fun structure that is executed really well, but that's not just it, either!

It's just, I feel like this might be one of the bes...more
When I first heard about this book, it sounded as though it might be just a story whose main point was to disparage Seattle. But although there is humor in the book that might seem to be at the expense of Seattle in particular, it could have been set any number of places. The main character, Bernardette, does go off on some diatribes, but it’s nothing more than the sort of complaining any urban dweller might do in any number of big cities. The books lampoons institutions such as private schools...more
Ugh, this book. You see that one star rating? It earned the single star by being mildly engrossing. I know I usually use the word "engrossing" in a positive way, to convey that a book was compelling and interesting, fascinating and exciting. Here I mean that it was just, somehow, able to hold my attention. Not even interest, really, just attention. Somehow. I don't know how. Well I guess this is how: it was entertaining in a way, and it definitely had a certain readability about it. I'm kind of...more
There is a new genre of contemporary fiction in which believability is thrown out the window in favor of wacky plot machinations, but which is not satire because the emotions of the characters are too real. (See also, "This Is Where I Leave You.")

When her daughter was born with a heart condition which gave her skin a blueish hue, Bernadette Fox named her daughter, Balakrishna Branch, because the Indian God, Krishna, is blue and the name means "child Krishna." Wacky, huh?!! (In case you were wond...more
A fun to read novel, hard to put down, but not totally satisfying. It rattles along at a fast clip, told in the form of emails and reports, about a Seattle family. The locations - Seattle and Antarctica - seem to be as important as the characters.

Bernadette is a stay at home mother who is remarkably anti social. She has no friends and doesn't like leaving the house, hiring an online virtual assistant based in India to carry out very simple chores. Her husband Elgie is a salt of the earth type, b...more
Bernadette Fox might just be the craziest person I have never met. If she consumed enough “happy” pills to actually become a fully-functioning member of society, she’d end up comatose from an overdose and spend the next six years of her life breathing through a respirator. Calling her eccentric gives Randy Quaid, Charlie Sheen, and Courtney Love a bad name. Or to put it another way, Bernadette Fox makes Adrian Monk look like Tom Brady.

Audrey Griffin needs to be treated with electric shock therap...more
Lisa Vegan
I really loved reading this quirky and hilarious book. It’s a hoot, and I found it so entertaining.

I spent much of the time chortling along, and found most of it delightful. For instance, never could I have imagined that Ps and Bs could be so funny.

Every once in a while, there were short periods when I was afraid it was going to get tedious, and then I’d be caught unawares, many times, laughing so hard.

Like most good humor, there is much poignancy too. The tone did change for a while toward the...more
Feb 01, 2014 oriana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to oriana by: L Magazine
I came home from a lovely late dinner and was heading to the computer because there are so many things I have to do before I go back to work on Wednesday. But I thought first I'd make a quick cup of tea to shore me up, and while the water was boiling I figured I'd just read for a sec—and before I knew it I was on the couch under a comforter eating an entire bag of kettle corn and an hour had passed and I was turning the final pages of this delightful little gem.

About the book: It's a blackish li...more
This book is a gem. The main character Bernadette is intensely appealing to me; she is rapier sharp witted, the humor is irascible yet fundamentally true, and there is an on going schism between whether her supposedly eccentric, anxiety ridden take on life is "crazy" or so scarily accurate that it is the rest of the world that is crazy & not her. This book unfolds with a series of hilarious emails from the assorted characters peopling Bernadette's life; from the intrusive, managing neighbor...more
Where'd You Go, Bernadette was wickedly funny. Who is Bernadette? Well, I think this part of the book's synopsis/blurb sums her up perfectly:

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.

Bernadette is, quite simply, just Bernadette. She's a fantastically funny character...more
The words “former writer for Arrested Development” are some of the greatest words any author can have in their bio – so great, in fact, that they trump “former writer for Mad About You,” even if they’re in the same sentence. The basic premise – the search for an acerbic rant-prone mother who hates Seattle (and leaving the house) who has mysteriously disappeared (or else it’d be a short search and probably titled something like “Try checking the living room”) – also sounded potentially fun, and i...more
I found this a fair dose of escapist fare on the level of TV situation comedies, which the author also has written for. In the past I enjoyed “All in the Family” and “Seinfeld”, but haven’t been drawn to others since. Just my personal taste in humor to crave something with more lingering bite or really over-the-top.

I can’t deny the cleverness of some of the situations in this tale set among the one-percenters in Seattle. For example, Bernadette’s outsourcing of the management of her household t...more
Isabel Allende
Where'd you go Bernardette, by Maria Semple is simple a riot of a
book. I laughed so uncontrollably in the plane that some passengers
complained. A Seattle teenage girl tells the story of how and why her
eccentric mother, who has alienated everybody around her, including
her Microsoft geek of a husband, ends up lost in Antarctica. Not to
miss if you need to get over a bout of depression.
Jr Bacdayan
I can't remember what year it was but I remember being really sad when Steve Irwin died. I can still picture that smug Australian smile painted on the face of a guy wrestling with a crocodile. What is it with him and crocodiles? At least, I know what's with him and stingrays. But really, killed by a stingray? I couldn't believe it. But then again, there were lots of things I couldn't believe back then. I'm pretty sure I didn't believe in goodreads back then, or Obama, or glee. If you would've to...more
When Bee gets a perfect report card, she reminds her parents that they promised her anything she wanted: and what she wants is a family trip to Antarctica. Thus begins this quirky novel about precocious Bee, her Microsoft-engineer and TED-star father, and her eccentric, misanthropic mother Bernadette. Bernadette was once a promising architect, the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, but has become a recluse in Seattle, a city she hates, depending on a virtual assistant in India to do even t...more
This was a truly pleasurable read. I zipped through it in a few days, and whenever I wasn't reading it, I wanted to be doing so.

I laughed and I laughed as I read this, but I also found it be quite moving and thought-provoking. I really disliked Bernadette in the first 20 pages, in particular for how she addressed her "virtual assistant" in India, and at first I thought, "Oh God. Private school white people! I hate private school white people!" (Sorry--must be my LAUSD defensiveness and pride gr...more
I always seem to pick up Bandwagon Books (as I call them) about two years after everyone has stopped talking about them. A few weeks ago, when I was contemplating my library hold list, I vaguely remembered hearing good things about Where'd You Go, Bernadette, and decided to give it a try. Apparently everyone else who patronizes my library had the same thought, because it took three months for the book to work its way down the hold list to me, but eventually I got it. I ripped through the book in...more
So, while looking through my [uncompleted] reading challenge from last year, and seeing a few I had totally forgot I even read, I made a New Year's resolution to start reviewing every book I read again, just to aid my wilting memory. Although, I already blew it since I didn't review Dracula, but really, the only thing more boring than the last half of Dracula is a review about how boring the last half of Dracula is.

Anyway, this one was great. Told through letters, emails, notes, and transcripts...more
Sherry H
This isn't the type of book I EVER would have picked up without a little convincing. But a couple of my GR friends, whose opinions I always trust, recently wrote glowing reviews of this book. And my brilliant friends were exactly right - what a gem!

From the beginning, we know that Bernadette is crazy - not just "say inappropriate things" crazy, or "take your child on vacation to Antarctica" crazy, but "involuntarily committed to a mental hospital" crazy. Through a series of articles, emails, sch...more
Fernando Silva
Em primeiro lugar quero pedir desculpa pela texto que se segue, eu nunca escrevi uma destas coisas mas acontece que o meu amigo André pediu-me para eu lhe dar uma palavrinha sobre este livro quando o acabasse. O problema é que eu chegava ali ao twitter e dizia-lhe, em menos de 140 caracteres, que o livro é basicamente sobre as relações entre a Bernadette, o marido, a filha e vá, mais umas 3 ou quatro pessoas e o André provavelmente iria dizer obrigado e xau e um queijo e o livro ficaria esquecid...more
I wasn’t planning to crack the cover of Where’d You Go, Bernadette. In fact, I actively resisted reading 2012’s sleeper hit. It has all the makings of something that would send me searching for that elusive “dislike” button. Social satire: Ugh. Chick lit affect (entirely and unfairly due to cover art): Ugh Ugh. Epistolary format with multiple points-of-view (tricksy, metafiction, “I’m a WRITAH” stuff): Ugh Ugh Ugh. Spoofy, anti-Seattle drivel penned by interloper from Southern California (haven’...more
Had to put it down 1/3 of the way through. This book is so good I don't ever want it to end.
Jessamyn Ayers
Given the multitude of positive reviews I had read,I was eager to tear into this book, but I never felt like it took off. Bernadette's voice is sharp and witty which I completely appreciated; about three-quarters of the way through the book, though, the other characters try to get her committed to a psychiatric hospital. By designating her unique and highly intelligent main character as crazy, I imagine Semple was trying to impugn the other characters but the way Semple works with it made me que...more
Giselle at Book Nerd Canada
The reader's point of view is from Bernadette Fox's daughter Bee who is a genius child and wants nothing more than to go to Antarctica with her parents. Following a string of letters, emails, notes, and even conversations between all the characters is a story about how Bernadette Fox goes missing. Her quirky actions ultimately lead to one of her biggest secrets, resulting in her only daughter to search for her.

Where'd You Go Bernadette is a wonderfully humourous read. I loved the different writi...more
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Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle, where her second novel takes place.
More about Maria Semple...
This One is Mine

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“That's right,' she told the girls. 'You are bored. And I'm going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it's boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it's on you to make life interesting, the better off you'll be.” 199 likes
“My heart started racing, not the bad kind of heart racing, like I'm going to die. But the good kind of heart racing, like, Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I'm about to kick the shit out of life.” 145 likes
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