“Where’d You Go, Bernadette”, by Maria Semple

Overall Rating: 5/5

Read it, or save your time?  Similar to The Great Alone in that I wasn’t very excited after reading the description, but was thrilled I gave it a chance.  A refreshingly different storyline qualifies this as one of the more interesting books I have ever read.  It is essentially a satire that will have you laughing out loud.

What’s it about?  Bernadette Fox is brilliant, as is her husband Elgin.  She, an award winning architect, and he, a Microsoft engineer who builds robots.  However, after Bernadette completes her most prestigious project, a green building in LA made from locally  sourced materials (before green was all the rage), she has an ‘incident’ with her neighbor she just can’t seem to get over.  Not being able to get over things is a theme for Bernadette, which is what makes her such a quirky, hilarious character.

She basically says F it and her and Elgin move with their fifteen-year-old daughter Brie to Seattle.  Elgin embraces the granola, overly environmentally conscious Seattle lifestyle, but Bernadette, saddled by life’s disappointments and a rapidly growing case of agoraphobia, CAN’T STOP COMPLAINING; from the annoying helicopter moms at the school whom she refers to as gnats, to women who refuse to dye their hair, to Canadians…you name it, it drives her nuts.

Although she is basically a recluse, and is possibly on the edge of a nervous breakdown, she does her best not to allow her issues affect her daughter, and they remain very close.  When Brie receives a perfect report card, she asks her parents to take her on her dream vacation – a cruise to Antartica.  Not wanting to deny her daughter, Bernadette reluctantly agrees.  Shortly thereafter, Bernadette goes missing.  Mix in an internet scam that will have you rolling with laughter, the hunt to find Bernadette, and a trip to the Arctic, and you have yourself a very unique story.

Told through a variety of mediums including texts, letters, and emails, you will be highly entertained.  Important to note that although some of the seriousness of the underlying themes and Bernadette’s issues, there is nothing dark about this book – it is intended to be fun and entertaining, not sad and depressing, and it totally works.

Reviewer’s Note:  Check it out before the movie hits the theaters in 2019, with Kate Blanchett starring as Bernadette.


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