Monday, January 28, 2013

RANDOM REVIEW MONDAY (2): Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Random Review Monday is a weekly meme, run by me, Reeka at BoundbyWords. Each week, I will choose a book from the fiction shelves at work (local bookstore), by simply closing my eyes, and pointing! I will read the book within the week, and review it the following Monday. This gives me a chance to get out of my comfort zone, and hopefully find some hidden gems!


Title:                      Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Author:                  Maria Semple (Cute site!)
Release Date:     Aug 4/2012
Publisher:           Little Brown and Company
Page Count:        326
Acquired:            Work Borrow
Format:              Hardcover
Read From:         Jan 24-26/2013
Goodreads:         ADD
Preorder:            Amazon/Indigo/The Book Depository

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.


I didn't find this book, this book completely found ME. I swear it. Maria Semple wrote this book, got it published, and then made it so that it found it's way onto the shelves at JUST my eye level. I both liked and grew frustrated by so many things in this book. Let me tell you about it:

The story opens with an outline of Bee's grades, straight A's across the board, an outstanding accomplishment. It turns out that both her mother, Bernadette Fox, and her father, Elgin Branch, had previously promised her an Antarctic cruise as the reward for this exact outcome of excellence. So it's set, the family is going away. But so is Bernadette's Fox's sanity. Since an unfortunate even that took place in her professional life, her tolerance for the people and the world around her took a nosedive. The trip then comes to a stand-still after Bernadette mysteriously disappears.

I felt like I completely understood Bernadette, at least throughout the first half of the book. I  related with her creative side, and her inability to function in a world where her passion wasn't being put to use. I climbed into the space in her head where it was just too difficult to deal with reality, and all the obligations of living a "normal" life. I love that the author allowed the readers a glimpse of both sides of the coin-the view of Bernadette through her daughter's eyes, and through the eye's of those who completely misunderstood her. She is made out to be a creative "genius," though I never quite catch a hold of that line of thought, I mostly found her a tad whiny and overwhelming.

I enjoyed the layout of the storyline, told mostly through letters and correspondence that had come into Bee's possession. I also liked that after each letter, Bee's own thoughts on the matter were there to help set things straight-I felt like I got to know Bernadette better than anyone else in the book did. This very fact helped softened my feelings near the end, which had me questioning Bernadette as a mother, and a human being. Her decision(s) were justified, but not enough to make me like her overall. 

The twists in this book were hard-hitting, and made for one hell of a climax. The sarcastic and satirical humour had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion-serious laughs, not just "ha-has." I especially enjoyed the numerous mentions of us Canadians being too into "equality." An entertaining read, though the build-up throughout the book led to a mostly mediocre ending.

I recommend this book to all mothers, everywhere, who know that you could lose your mind once in a good while, but you could never lose the love you have for your children. Also, for those looking for a few good, heart healthy laughs.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this one too. I live near the area where the book is set, and I think my favorite thing about it was the wit and humor which Maria Semple uses to portray the Pacific Northwest and it's general (not always good) feeling. :)


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