Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

where'd you go bernadetteAre you kidding me? I loved this book! Are you kidding me? I never saw that coming! Are you kidding me? I surely didn’t see THAT coming! What a charming, funny book, that is also horrible and the exact opposite of charming and funny at the very same moment! A true paradox of a book. I shocked myself by laughing out loud at terrible things. I hated and loved most of the characters. I felt sorry for them and angry at them, again, at the same time. I lived near Seattle for a number of years. The description of the Emerald City both offended me and warmed my heart at the same time. It made me angry and giggly at the same instance.

So if we take this book and read the description this is what we get:

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….

For much of the book you believe this is what the novel is about. Then the author, Maria Semple, throws in a little twist. A simple hand written note from Bernadette’s husband. Suddenly you start to understand a little bit more. However, Semple then throws in an e-mail from Bernadette and you’re like, “OMGreatGoodness, I am so getting this book now! Oh my, I can’t believe this”…..and the hidden truths of the past and present are dropped here and there, bit by bit….until suddenly the entire picture you had painted in your head is like looking at a Bev Doolittle original painting! You’re looking at this image and the more you look, the more you see….the whole image you first glanced at is built upon one little hidden gem upon another…and another….

I was just as surprised by some of the twists in the novel as the characters were. All I can say is that this novel reinforces what we all already know…Don’t judge a book based solely upon its cover. We all do things for different reasons. We all have pasts that shape whom we are today. What you take as indifference from someone might be anything but….

I admire Semple for not giving this ending a happy ever after finish. There are still messy bits that can’t be easily solved…bits that the characters will have to deal with after this book finishes. I admire her for turning a simple straightforward “chick lit” book into so much more. I appreciate the laughter and the shock value as well. Sure, you might look at parts of the novel and think, “But grown adults would NEVER act that way”….I say hey ho…they do it every single day….thank you Semple for putting it in the light of day….

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Where’d You go, Bernadette by Maria Semple