Sass and the City

‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette?’: A Book Review

Where'd you go bernadette

Photo Credit: Hachette Book Group

Last fall while hanging out with my friend in her dorm room, I saw a copy of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?  The cover immediately grabbed my attention with its colorful, spunky design and alluring title. I left it in the back of my mind, but the book’s name and cover kept popping up everywhere for the next year.

This summer at Haute Living, one of my editors was raving to another one about the very same book. Her descriptions and reactions made the book impossible to not read, so I jotted down the title on my never-ending list of books to read. Finally, over winter break I decided to read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? and am so glad I did.

Name: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Author: Maria Semple

Year: 2012

Premise: 15-year-old Bee asks her Seattle-based parents to embark on a family trip to Antarctica after she aces her report card, a promise they made a while ago. But before the trip, her agoraphobic mother, Bernadette, disappears. To figure it all out, Bee compiles official documents, conversations, emails, letters, etc.

Review: From the beginning, I was hooked. The book had me laughing, thinking, tearing up, wondering. Semple’s writing forces you to laugh and reflect on its wacky, shrewd, accurate humor – no wonder she has written for Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development and Mad About You. Her characters are so well-developed and pivotal to the plot; her unconventional, epistolary storytelling makes her a wonderful raconteur. During the entire time it took me to read it (two days – I couldn’t put it down), I was in awe of her writing magic. But I wasn’t just laughing the entire time, either. As satirical and hilarious as it was, it was also incredibly poignant and touching because of Bee’s relationships with her mother and mother, Bernadette’s past, and their future. As you can see, this book is a must-read and, in my opinion, a staple of modern literature.

Rating: 5/5

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