Saturday, January 16, 2016

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

by Hayden Hadley

This book is for readers who like relatable yet unusual plots that captivate the reader and get them invested into the novel’s characters. The book takes place in Seattle and Antarctica, taking you through the life of a middle-aged woman, Bernadette, and her family as they plan a trip that the daughter, Bee, was promised in return for good grades. 

The story is in the form of emails and messages back and forth between all of the characters along with interjected comments from Bee’s perspective. In the chaos of planning, Bernadette becomes overwhelmed in her life and disappears. Bee is on a mission to find her while her dad is busy at his life consuming work on the incredible Samantha 2 Microsoft project. The novel dissects the pressures and expectations that people have in the modern and the emotions that come along with this anxiety. The riveting writing of Semple allows the reader to relate to and feel the emotions of the characters.

There are a wide range of events, from scandalous encounters to intense arguments, to childlike encounters (their dog’s name is Ice Cream). This book was incredibly entertaining as Bernadette and the “gnats,” or other mothers of Bee’s class, get into petty fights that all relate to the demise of Bernadette. By making this book a story communicated through many messages, there is a vast array of perspectives, causing the reader to see the situation from all angles. The plot is over the top sometimes and not always realistic, but its extravagance is part of the fun of reading it. Enjoy!

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