Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Published by Little, Brown and Company on August 14 2012
Genres: Adult Fiction, Humour, Contemporary
Rating: 4/5 stars
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.
I have absolutely nothing negative to say about Where'd You Go, Bernadette. This is a very rare occasion, indeed!
The characters are wonderfully nuanced and even those I couldn't stand (Audrey & Soo-Lin, for the most part) were well-crafted and realistic, though reality was clearly heightened for the sake of hijinks. Audrey was the perfect depiction of an over-involved suburban PTA mom. She was so caught up in making sure everything went perfectly that she was completely unaware that she was acting like a madwoman and, more importantly, that her son had major problems that needed to be sorted out.
My favourite character, by far, was Bernadette herself. She was very clearly the star of the book, and rightly so. She may be slightly mad, with her tirades against Seattle in general and her intense agoraphobia, but she's incredibly entertaining. It actually kind of concerns me how well I identified with her. I had to laugh at the fact that she repeatedly redirected herself when she came to the topic of Canadians.
The pacing here was amazing. There was only one slow spot, around the 90% mark, but for the most part it just flew by. It was well-written, and the humour was spot-on. I'm really glad that I picked this book up when I did. I went into it without a clue of the plot or even what it was about at all, and I'm happy to say that it just made it all the more exciting.