REVIEW: Where's You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

June 29, 2016

 

SYNOPSIS: 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 to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

 

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

 

GENRE: Fiction, Contemporary (little bit Mystery, little bit Humor)

 

RATING: ★★★☆☆ / 3 fun stars.

 

REVIEW: There have been times when I have wanted to jump into the pages of a book and shake a character or possibly yell or knock some sense into them, but rarely do I want to straight-up bitch-slap fictional characters like I did in this book. And that's not something to mark down on the CON list for this book, it didn't bother me at all that I despised some of these characters, because you're meant to despise them. I'm simply saying that others would use this page traveling power to visit Hogwarts, and I'm pretty sure that my first stop would be a smackdown in Where'd You Go, Bernadette...and then on to Hogwarts.

 

Okay, on to the proper review. I purchased this book based on popularity and the announcement that Kate Blanchett will be starring in a movie adaptation (others worship at the alter of Beyonce, I am swayed by the awesomeness of Kate Blanchett and Helen Mirren). So I went into this book mostly blind. I didn't know that it was told through a series of pieced together emails, notes, and other correspondence. While it was interesting and essentially the point of the whole book, I found this style of story telling to be a bit jarring. I found my eyes backtracking constantly to check the voice or names attached to the email. So while I enjoyed the beginning, it was a little hard to get into.

 

The sections containing the news/magazine article on Bernadette was where I finally became hooked on the story. As well as the long missive from Bernadette to an old colleague. Probably because these were long passages that finally gave me flow to the story, something in which I could really sink. Getting into the mind of our title character was amazing. Interweaving all of this is Bee's commentary, which considering that all these bits are supposed to be compiled by her after the fact, creates a unique and interesting book.

 

The ending was fantastic, and probably the reason why I would recommend this book to other readers. It's not a completely perfect ending, but it was so unique and picking up the breadcrumbs that we have been given, and finally understanding what happened to Bernadette, was immensly satisfying. In the end, I really enjoyed this book.

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