Michelle's Reviews > Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
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Sep 03, 12

bookshelves: 2012, social-commentary, contemporary-fiction, humorous
Read from September 02 to 03, 2012

There is much to love here. This book is some combination of Family Fang and Running with Scissors (the movie, not the book) but has its own unique brand of prose and plot. I never watched Arrested Development but apparently the author wrote for it and that series is said to be equally amusing.

Fifteen year old Bee might possibly be one of my favorite characters in all of fiction. Too bad I’ve long since finished naming my children because I’d consider naming one after her (though certainly not her full name Balakrishna!) I loved Bernadette too, despite her neurosis and most of all because she loves her daughter so very much it’s palpable. For all her issues Bernadette is, in fact, a great mom which goes to show being a wonderful mother is not about being around the most, volunteering the most, etc. One of my favorite scenes is what she does for Bee’s best friend’s birthday. She is such a great mother, crumbling house and life notwithstanding.

The catty ladies at the school are hilarious as is the heavy Microsoft overlay. The satire in these two areas is spot on. I’ve met these moms; I get this corporate culture. The format changes about two-thirds of the way in, the first part told in an epistolary fashion (letters, emails, doctors’ bills), the latter straight narration via Bee and I definitely preferred the first. At times, especially near the end, it ventures into the ridiculous, but somehow all in a good way.

The writing is awesome… There are many (many, many) hysterically-written sentences and descriptions. I snorted aloud frequently but still the characters and plot are endearing. Overall a fantastic read.
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