Where'd You Go Bernadette?

Monday, June 24, 2013



Where'd you go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple
★★★★☆

Bernadette is a bit of a mystery when we meet her. She struggles with social interaction, but we don’t know why. She would do anything for her daughter Bea, including plan a trip to Antarctica despite her dislike of crowds. Her husband Elgin spends most of his time hard at work at Microsoft and doesn’t seem to notice that his wife is slowly spiraling farther away from her family. The book is really about one family’s struggle with success, failure and all of the hills and valleys in between.

Slowly the story of Bernadette’s life unfolds and her attitudes begin to make sense. As she struggles to hang on to her sanity in suburbia you find yourself rooting for her regardless of the situation. When Bernadette goes missing her daughter tries to piece together a trail of communication that might offer some clue to what happen. Letters, emails, newspaper articles, and more make up the bulk of the text. This format works so well, giving the reader multiple points of view and a wider picture of the whole plot.

Between Bernadette’s diatribes about Seattle and the dramatic whining of her neighbor Audrey, the book is so funny. The author wrote for Arrested Development so I had a feeling I’d love her sense of humor, but the characters deal with big issues and are complex enough to make you care deeply about what happens to them.

BOTTOM LINE: At times hilarious, at others heartbreaking the book is seriously good. It made me laugh out loud and still had enough depth to stick with me. A perfect summer read!

p.s. I LOVED the audio version, just wonderful.


Image from here

10 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

The audio WAS wonderful! I found it interesting that the book was so damned funny but had some real serious things going on as well. This is a book that has it all. Did you know they are making it into a movie?

Trish said...

I'm a little embarrassed to say this but I thought this was a book about Bernadette Peters. Shows how often I read summaries... Ok, I think you've sold me on the audio. I need a good funny/serious book.

Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader said...

I looooved this book! I laughed like a fool throughout and thought it was so smart :)

Brooke said...

Now I'm sad I didn't go for the audio, but still excited to read. I think I need to push it up the TBR list so I can get to it this summer. Everyone seems to enjoy it.

Jeanne said...

A friend has been urging me to read this.
Um, where would be better to go if you don't like crowds than the Antarctic?

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - That's what I really loved. I think it's incredibly hard to balance comedy and drama in novels and this one did it so perfectly. I had no idea about the movie, but I would definitely see that!

Trish - Bahaha, hey Bernadette Peters, where'd you go? That would be a really funny memoir title for a child movie star who fell off the radar or something.

Jennifer - So smart and seriously funny!

Brooke - I think it would still be really good in print!

Jeanne - Ha, I think it's more the fact that she has to get to Antarctica on a cruise ship filled with tourists.

Ellie said...

I have a very dry sense of humour and there aren't many books that really make me laugh but this one totally did. I loved it. I wouldn't mind giving the audiobook a try either!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Ellie - I feel the same. Sedaris usually cracks me up and Let's Pretend This Never Happened made me laugh, but not too many others.

Melissa McCurdy said...

I loved this! So much so that my hardback copy has been in constant circulation to various friends since I read it last winter -- "here -- you must read this book!"

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Melissa - I've already recommended it to half a dozen people! It's one of those that's fun for almost anyone.