Leila's Reviews > Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple
by Maria Semple
Oct 09, 2012
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 who is also a parent at Bernadette's daughter's school (and who over eagerly inserts her devout albeit earth mother inspired Christianity into every conversation) to the laugh out loud drones & slaves to IT Microsoft culture, & the ambitious recruitment specialist at her daughter's school looking to sell it to prospective "Mercedes parents not Subaru parents." The character renderings here are so spot on that you will recognize versions of people you know and interact with almost at every turn. Bernadette's daughter as narrator might not work in another book by another author because it could become very precious and twee, but Bee, the daughter is extremely relateable, existing in the story as a child yet maintaining an adult voice. As it unfolds, we learn that the big event triggering Bernadette's reclusive lifestyle, agoraphobic tendencies & anxious habits was a professional disaster in her early career as a genius architect & winner of a MacArthur grant. The ending has an adventure where Bee & her father end up taking a cruise to Antarctica retracing Bernadette's route before she disappears, and has enough light suspense to keep you guessing until the very end whether they will find her or not. I loved the characters and my measure of a good book is whether they stay with me after Ive read it with the vast amount that I read. These guys will & I am happy to whole heartedly recommend!!
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