Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, Bernadette
By Maria Semple 
Little, Brown, and Company 2012
326 pages
From the library

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, Bernadette appears to be a breakout hit in the literary world. It's the story of a woman named Bernadette who isn't too fond of other people. She interacts only with her husband and daughter, achieving this goal by hiring a virtual assistant in India to talk to people on her behalf. When her daughter Bee announces that she wants to take a family cruise to Antarctica as a reward for her excellent grades, Bernadette tentatively agrees. But Bernadette can barely handle the pick-up line at Bee's school and days before the trip, Bernadette disappears without a trace.

Reviewers describe it as hilarious and quirky, clever and delightful. It recently made the long list of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2013. So the question is...does this book live up to the hype?

I should have hated this book. I don't usually appreciate books that are told through correspondence, but this one works wonderfully. Bernadette's daughter Bee tries to determine what happened to her mother by sorting through emails, letters, and notes. And I loved it. 

This book is really funny. Bernadette has no concept of normal social graces - while she tries to avoid people when possible, she will also say exactly what she thinks with no thought about manners or what is appropriate for a situation. Bernadette seems a bit loony to the people in her community and to us as we read about her misadventures. But as the novel progresses, it becomes obvious that Bernadette's neuroses are an honest reaction to a crazy world. Maybe she is the sanest character of them all. 

This novel is different from anything you've been reading. It's funny and surprisingly insightful and you just might find yourself hiding out in your house so you can get through five more pages...or finish the book. 

7 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you liked this one Lindsey :) I thought it was so smart and SO funny!

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    1. It was great. I'm trying to figure out who to suggest it to first!

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  2. Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I loved it. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. I sent a copy to my best friend and she repeatedly texted me lines from the novel that were making her laugh. The end gets a little crazy, but I think the humor really saves it. Has this one been voted on in the tournament of books yet? I wonder...

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    1. I read that a lot of people found the ending a little flat, but it seemed true to life for me. Sometimes things are frantic and crazy, and sometimes they slow down a bit and are more heartfelt.

      I checked the Tournament of Books. It lost out to The Orphan Master's Son in the first round...sigh.

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  3. I am trying to get to this one from our library. It sounds so intriguing.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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  4. The book was written through letters, emails and first person narrative. Very different and enjoyable. Would recommend to anyone who likes to read a different styles and themes.

    Zaira Lynn (Seattle IT Consultant)

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