Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple(5 out of 5)

This is one of the funniest books I’ve read all year. Never mind the great cover, which looks like a 1950’s vintage postcard. I loved that right off the bat. I had read an article about this book, via Huffington Post Books, and we got it into the store. I would say, right now, it’s definitely the “Domestic Violets” book of the year(meaning I will recommend, and hopefully sell, many copies of it).

The center of our tale is Bernadette, a well-known enigmatic woman who was once an architectural urban legend, but has now settled into a life of domesticity in a crumbling house in the middle of a neighborhood full of judgmental mothers. Her daughter Bee is exceptionally intelligent, but having a hard time finding her place in amidst all of these suburban child protegees. Bee just kind of wants to be- well, who she is. Throw in Elgin, her workaholic Microsoft-wizard husband, who has to really carve time out of his busy schedule, and you have quite a family dynamic. Bernadette, despite her huge anxiety issues, is best friend and a great mom to Bee, letting her be an individual and not letting the priveleged attitudes of her elitist classmates ruin her outlook on life. Bee aces her report card and gets her wish- a family trip to Antartica. Of course, Bernadette picks this time to vanish off the face of the earth. Bee is devastated but begins piecing together what happened to her mom. There’s a whole supporting cast of kooks I can’t even begin to describe who accompany this story and fill in the watercolors on the painting. If this were a painting, it would be beyond surrealism.  If this were a laugh track, you would be clutching your side in pain from laughing so hard. If you know an Audrey, run like hell. Of course, now I’ve ensured that you will want to read this book. I hope.

What’s not to like? Really, I have no complaints here- except that the ride had to eventually end. Bee is a refreshingly fresh and open teenager. Bernadette is beyond hysterical, espicially when her daughter’s goodwill and good intentions are called into question. Elgin- well, I thought he was a flake extraordinaire, until the last couple of chapters salvaged him in my book. Antartica? After reading about the cruise, you’ll want to go- just to meet the crazy characters who live there. It kind of reminded me of the old CBS show Northern Exposure, but way cooler.

I liked the style of the story- first person narratives, journal entries, letters, emails, etc. I love books that do that, because it splices up the usual layout of a book and throws it into a zesty stew of literary potpourri. Seriously, the funniest, most heartwarming book I’ve read all year. I hope there are more out there. Do yourself a favor, and read this one.


~ by generationgbooks on October 20, 2012.

One Response to “Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple(5 out of 5)”

  1. Great review!!!!!! I will add this to my TBR list for sure. I have always wanted to go to Antarctica!

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