Friday, March 15, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Published by Little, Brown and Company; August 14, 2012
Hardcover, 330 pages

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.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

- Description from

There we go! The first adult novel reviewed on Random Reads and another book I read for my book club. I must say though, that this was a hilarious book. I found myself chuckling at many spots (once I understood it was supposed to be sarcastic and satirical) and highlighting quotes. If you're one of those people who don't like making notes or dog-earing pages in books, like me, get this book on an eReader because I guarantee there will be pages in here you'll want to remember.

Now, one thing that threw me off when I first started reading was the layout of the book. Bee, daughter of Bernadette is the narrator, but she doesn't narrate much until you reach the end. The majority of the book is made up of letters, and texts, articles, and documents which tell the story. If there are any holes to be filled, Bee fills them with her witty and funny story telling. However, I felt that because the majority of the story was told through documents, it was a tough transition for me when Bee started to take over completely. I mean, she's only popped up a handful of times! I technically don't even know who this girl is! 

This is more or less what my feelings were towards the other characters. They were basically no-face unknowns. I didn't have much information on them, and they all seemed very annoying. I did not relate or connect to any of them, especially Bernadette. Am I supposed to worry that she's gone? Am I supposed to feel for Elgie and Bee? Because seriously, I don't think I would be able to do that for my life. 

Next point, Bernadette's disappearance which was the worst thing in this book. It's what the whole book is based on, but to me, it wasn't emphasized much. Half the time, I totally forgot that Bernadette was even missing. There was just way too much information leading up to the climax and much of it was unnecessary. It did not add to the plot in any way, merely giving us more than enough information on Bernadette's wacky ways. Also, I didn't really feel that Bee found her mother. It was more of a like Aha! moment because it was pretty clear where she went. The whole idea was why she went, right? The documents did not help Bee to find her mom at all, they were just explanation. And explanation. And more explanation. 

Will you allow me to disagree with the Goodreads description of this book? It is not touching because I was so disconnected from the characters. I really couldn't have given less of a crap for whether or not Bee hated her dad or Audrey getting her house ruined. It is not compulsively readable, because the only really good thing about this book was the sheer hilariousness and ridiculousness of the book and even that, I find, got boring and overdone. 

I wouldn't say I loved this book, but I wouldn't say I hated it either. The quotes I highlighted were all really funny, and I had eighteen Kobo pages of them. The rest of the book, however, was a bit of a nightmare. It was lacking in cohesiveness and I'm very sad to say this. The story had great potential, but it was poorly executed. On the bright side, I love the cover!

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