Where’d You Go. Bernadette
By Maria Semple
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316204279, July 2012, 336pp.)
The Short of It:
Funny, sweet and a little sad but oh so rewarding to read.
The Rest of It:
Everyone has read this book, I know. Except, I never read books when everyone else is reading them so it’s no surprise that I am writing about it now when most of the world has already discovered this gem. But on the off-chance that there is someone who hasn’t read it, then… well, you must read it.
Bernadette Fox falls into the “eccentric” category. She’s married to a man who spends most of his hours at work, Microsoft to be exact and her home, far from traditional, is a sore point to many of the Seattle moms that live near her. She doesn’t participate in any of the school activities and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Bee is perfectly okay with that. But Bernadette is more than a little different. Once a famous architect, she has become somewhat of a recluse by choosing to hang out in the camper she’s set-up in her yard just for that purpose.
Deep down, she knows that she’s missing out on what life has to offer, but with her personal assistant, who is supposedly from India, she manages to live this life, restricted as it is. When she needs something, she just sends an email and it’s taken care of. What she can’t figure out, is how to get out of a family trip to Antarctica. At Bee’s request, they’ve planned a vacation of a lifetime but when things at home spiral out of control, Bernadette goes missing.
This is one of those crazy books that you can’t help but love. Bernadette is way, way out there but when she goes missing, you see the true effect she has on the people surrounding her. Bee, loves her mother unconditionally and finds herself frustrated with her father’s lack of urgency over the situation. As Bee attempts to find her, I began to really see who Bernadette was and how she lost her sense of self over the years.
At this point of the story, I was heartbroken over Bee’s loss. As a reader, you just don’t know what to think. I listened to some of the story on audio and it was heart wrenching! Both the book and the audio are filled with emotional moments, but also some very funny ones which is what keeps it light. But don’t let the playful cover fool you, there are some serious themes here. Bernadette’s sense of isolation, her inability to see herself as a person, depression and her marriage which is clearly in need of some help, all manage to make this a book of substance. This would make a fabulous book club pick as there is a lot to talk about.
I really enjoyed this book and I enjoyed the characters as well. Bee, will always have a special place in my heart, as will Bernadette. They are both so complex but at the same time, so likable. Every minute that I spent with this book was a minute well-spent.
Have you read it?
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