Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Posted by Brette in Books

I read this book in a day, while I had a migraine: it was that good. Couldn’t put it down. You first find out a tween’s mom somehow has disappeared, then you get the back story. Bee, her mom Bernadette, and her dad live in Seattle in a crazy old building that was once a home for girls. Her dad works for Microsoft. Her mom has great achievements in her past (which are slowly revealed), but currently is persona non grata among the moms at Bee’s school. Bee’s mom is slightly wacky, but does it go beyond that? The story involves things like an Antarctic cruise, a mudslide, robotics, a virtual assistant, an unplanned pregnancy, and some mighty cool architecture. It’s about getting over the past, forgiving yourself, keeping marriage alive, hearing your inner voice, and never giving up. The story builds to the mom’s disappearance and then Bee’s search for her.

The author is a TV writer, who wrote for Mad About You, one of my favorite shows, and Arrested Development. If you like those shows, you will love this book. It is snappy, fast, and always twisting.

My favorite thing about the book is that it is primarily made up of correspondence: emails, letters, reports, and notes. I am possibly the world’s biggest fan of this kind of book. Meg Cabot wrote a couple that were all email. Then of course there is the all-time great, A Woman of Independent Means, made up only of letters. I love the way a story unfolds through letters and email and will take that any day over some long-winded descriptive novel that waxes poetic constantly.

This book was fun, unexpected, heartbreaking, a little haunting, and a great mystery. I was sad when it was over and wanted more! The characters are all fascinating and distinctive people with just enough quirks to make you question their behavior for a few seconds at every turn, as they reveal new sides to themselves that are always unanticipated.

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