Friday, October 25, 2013
Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Where'd You Go Bernadette is almost entirely told through emails, notes, and messages. Bernadette's fifteen year old daughter, Bee, narrates the parts where either the email needs explanation or when Bee feels that the reader needs to know more about her parents. Bernadette is an eccentric former architect who lives in a deteriorating Seattle mansion. Her husband, Elgin, is devoted to his Microsoft job. And Bee is whip smart and headed to a great East Coast boarding school in the fall. As Bee's graduation present, Bee asks for a family vacation to Antarctica. This is what starts the whole mess/adventure.
At first I loved Where'd You Go Bernadette. The writing was clever and the characters were funny. Plus all the Seattle references. How could it go wrong? About half way through the book, it took a turn. Not unexpected but just unwelcome. After Bernadette disappears, the book turned (momentarily) into a Desperate Housewives episode. Drug addicted children, spiritual awakenings, unexpected pregnancies, a lackluster affair. It didn't seem in keeping with the rest of the book which had been light and funny until then. But once we got past that, it didn't go back to light and funny (not til the end) but I felt like the ship righted itself.
The other gripe I had with Where'd You Go Bernadette was that for fifteen, Bee sure talked like an adult. And she did some things that I didn't feel were keeping with a fifteen year old girl. I still enjoyed Where'd You Go Bernadette but some parts didn't feel realistic. Although I think Semple did an excellent job capturing the parents at Bee's school and some of the other Seattle quirks. Overall it was an enjoyable book. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments. Others who shared their thoughts on Where'd You Go Bernadette: She Loved Life, That's What She Read, Rhapsody In Books, Devourer of Books, Coffee, Books, and Me, and A Lovely Shore Breeze.