Where’d You Go Bernadette?

By Maria Semple

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.

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I have been wanting to read this book for a long time and was so delighted when my book club chose this one!

It was everything my expectations hoped it would be. Definitely fun, quirky, and unusual…just like it’s title character. The novel is told in pieces of emails, documents, faxes, etc, while being interspersed with bits of Bee’s narration. I thought this book would be sadder or more dramatic than it was, but it was surprisingly light and fun.

I enjoyed the tirade against Seattle and Microsoft and the SUV-driving, soccer mom types. Nothing against any of those three things, but reading as Bernadette tore apart the “gnats” and everything they stood for was just great.

I don’t want to spoil anything by talking about the plot, but this was a really wonderful book. I will definitely be reading more by this author.

One quote that I really loved from the book that got me thinking was this one:

“People like you must create. If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.”

I think that’s a pretty good summary of creative people. Creative people need to create like they need to breathe or exercise. And when they don’t, things just go wrong.

Read this book, you won’t be disappointed!

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