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.