Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

alissapic
alissapic

I met the wonderfully vibrant Alissa in college. We had English 101 together, and I remember our neurotic teacher flipping out because Alissa used a Napoleon Dynamite folder to hand in her essay. I thought it was the sweetest folder ever. Alissa is nothing but fun and always kept me sane with car rides to Walmart, Backyard Burgers, and Cordova Mall. You can visit her blog at: http://theilliterateauthor.blogspot.com/search/label/About. Enjoy the book review.

Spoiler alert: this book is amazing. If you haven't read it, you need to. I spent the entire book giggling like a schoolgirl in study hall. There are not many books I consider both brilliantly written and laugh-out-loud funny, but this makes the cut.

Now that we've covered that, we can start the actual book review. I had never read anything by Maria Semple before, but when I read a friend's review, I knew I had to give it a try. Let's meet the cast, shall we?

The Cast:

Bernadette is a brilliant—albeit washed-up—architect who holes herself up in her troubled girls’-dormitory-turned-home in Seattle. As an eccentric, self-proclaimed superior, she doesn't get out much. Bernadette loathes the other parents at her daughter's private middle school, and they're not pining for her company. Words to describe her would be neurotic, narcissistic, and loudly opinionated.

Next, we come to Bernadette's daughter Bee (yes, that is her actual name; see above about Bernadette being eccentric). Bee knows her mother is a bit odd but accepts her. She is graduating from afore-mentioned stuffy middle school with fantastic grades and plans of attending the boarding school her mother went to as a teen.

Enter Elgin. Elgin is Bernadette's incredibly intelligent husband. He is a big shot at Microsoft and avoids conflict at home. Words to describe him include genius, understated, kind, and a bit of a weenie. (I suppose that last one is a more of a phrase.)

The Plot:

Bernadette and Elgin told Bee if she graduated from middle school with great grades they would give her anything she wanted as a reward. Because Bee is a chip off the old, brilliant block, she chooses a cruise to Antarctica. Bee's choice and a series of other events send her high-anxiety, anti-social, to-the-extreme mother over the edge, and one day, she simply disappears. Bernadette leaves no note, no explanation, and absolutely no hint of where she has vanished. Bee is left to piece together the clues to find her mother, ultimately discovering more than just her mother's physical location.

Reasons You Need to Read It:

  • You will laugh. A lot. Seriously, Semple is brilliant.
  • Bernadette's perspective of the world is fantastic, purely snarky. If this woman were real, I would be number one on her fan list.
  • It helps you remember that relationships are always more than they appear at face value. Families are dysfunctional, but they are valuable.
  • You get to read lines like this: “One of the main reasons I don't like leaving the house is because I might find myself face-to-face with a Canadian.”
  • Seriously, if you're not sold by now, you probably never will be. If that's the case, I'm sorry for your loss.

Now go to your library and check this gem out. Or don't. The rest of us will just giggle on without you.