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Where'd You Go, Bernadette

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3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  197,955 Ratings  ·  23,818 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, 330 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2012)
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Mary I like little or no profanity, so my opinion is that it is medium to high. There were 5-6 F words, and scattered other words. If someone isn't very…moreI like little or no profanity, so my opinion is that it is medium to high. There were 5-6 F words, and scattered other words. If someone isn't very sensitive to hard language, it doesn't really matter how many there are (within reason), does it? If they are, any F word is too much.(less)
Donna not at all. this book is smart and funny. It's not dark nor disturbing. It doesn't make you want to ask for your money back after you read it. Gone…morenot at all. this book is smart and funny. It's not dark nor disturbing. It doesn't make you want to ask for your money back after you read it. Gone Girl was horrible. I LOVED Where'd You Go, Bernadette. And if you are up to it, I suggest listening to the audio book. The narrator is amazing!(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jessica
Jan 17, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Read this for a second time for a new book club, and I loved it just as much as I did the first time.

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. This is satire."

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 f
...more
Travis Fortney
Jul 01, 2012 Travis Fortney rated it liked it
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
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Ashley
May 20, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing
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
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Pearl Ruled

Rating: 1.6* of five (p97)

The Publisher Says: 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
...more
Steve
Apr 15, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
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
Rich
Dec 16, 2012 Rich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lormac
Aug 10, 2013 Lormac rated it it was ok
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
Paige
Apr 01, 2013 Paige rated it did not like it
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
Meg
Jan 28, 2013 Meg rated it it was amazing
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
Nataliya
Jun 14, 2014 Nataliya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
Even on the busiest call nights at work, the phrase that never fails to grab my attention regardless of whatever else I may be doing is, "I hear you like reading. Have you ever read _____?"

That's how I first heard about Where'd You Go, Bernadette. The call night was painfully slow, the wifi was actually working, the Kindle app on my phone was begging for a free sample which turned out to be hilarious, my brain was headed into the 22nd hour of being awake, and the impulse buy predictably happened
...more
Suzanne
Feb 08, 2014 Suzanne rated it really liked it
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
Julie
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
Michelle
Aug 16, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oriana
Feb 01, 2014 Oriana rated it really liked it  ·  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
Robert
Aug 19, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: robert-s-reads
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
Glenn Sumi
Jan 03, 2016 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it
I wanted the last book I read in 2015 to be special, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette fit the bill, despite the obvious “chicklit” cover. (More on the cover below.)

The book was sweet but not saccharine, full of darkly funny humour but also a real warmth. And it introduced me to two unforgettable characters: Bernadette, a frustrated, mildly agoraphobic mother and former rising star architect, and Bee, her tiny, precocious daughter who was born with a congenital heart condition.

Initially I found the
...more
Hilary
Jan 01, 2013 Hilary rated it it was ok
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
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
Isabel Allende
Dec 23, 2013 Isabel Allende rated it really liked it
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.
Lisa
Apr 16, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
First read, Dec. 2014: I loved this book SO MUCH, it's going to be hard to review it. It's not like any other book I've ever read. I feel like THIS is what a lot of books try to be: quirky, charming, hilarious and apropos of everything in life today. The difference is that this book succeeds in doing all of those things on all levels. It hits every mark across the board. It's a remarkably clever and smart work disguised in a cute, kitschy cloak. This is not fluff, this is substance. Don't let it ...more
Lewis Weinstein
Apr 06, 2015 Lewis Weinstein rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-general
I did not expect to like this book, but I had to read it, since it is our book club selection this month.

Was I ever surprised? It is a delightful read, with just enough tension and emotion, but mainly built on humor, clever writing, an innovative plot, and an ingenious style. Top that with a very moving mother-daughter relationship and a good-natured poke at Microsoft, and this is a definite winner.

Anything more I might say would spoil the read. 5*****

I can add, however, that Maria Semple is one
...more
Diane S ⛄
Aug 29, 2012 Diane S ⛄ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an absolutely original, inventive and humorous novel, I can't remember the last time I read a novel that caused me to laugh out loud. Bernadette is a definite original, someone I wish I knew in real life. Yet, there are poignant moments, serious self realizations come to the surface and her daughter Bee is an absolute delight as well. Who knew you could form complete characters from e-mails, letters etc. yet in this book Semple does it and does it well. Definitely recommend.
Jr Bacdayan
Oct 24, 2013 Jr Bacdayan rated it liked it
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
LeeAnne

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

A delightful, entertaining, fast read. Lots of humor.



This is a character study as well as a hilarious satire about the city of Seattle, gossipy private school moms and Microsoft's corporate culture. Bee’s quest to physically locate her mom parallels her mom's search for her lost identity after she became immersed in being a stay-at-home mom.

What happens to a woman’s sense of self when it was based on a successful career she no longer has the time for? Who is she witho
...more
Leila
Oct 09, 2012 Leila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Otis Chandler
Dec 07, 2015 Otis Chandler rated it really liked it
Recommended to Otis by: Elizabeth
My wife suggested I read this book, and I resisted for a while as my impression of it somehow was "not for me" - but I was wrong! I'm glad she finally convinced me, because it was fun and I couldn't put it down after I got ~20% in.

Bernadette moved to Seattle from LA, abandons her career as an architect to have kids, hates Seattle, and basically loses it over the course of the book. The book was fun and written a light, humorous tone - from making fun of Seattle and Microsoft, the obsession of pa
...more
Madeline
Mar 16, 2014 Madeline rated it liked it
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
Michael
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
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Edan
Oct 20, 2012 Edan rated it really liked it
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
Jessica
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
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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...

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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.” 370 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.” 224 likes
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