Sunday, January 20, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

by Maria Semple
January 7-20, 2013

What a refreshing change from the drab novels that I have been picking up! I found this one on several "Best of" lists for 2012, plus I'd heard buzz from other reading pals about it, so I nabbed it from the library. Set up as a series of emails, letters and faxes, I had a hard time finding the pace at first. But once I adapted, I flew through with an eagerness I haven't experienced in quite some time.

Bee aces her report card and cashes in on a promise that her parents made to her: a trip to Antarctica. Her father is a guru at Microsoft and rather detached. Her mother is an agoraphobic genius architect who hates the neighbors and hires a virtual assistant from India (to avoid said neighbors). Thus, hilarity ensues. When Bee's oblivious father senses a breakdown in Bernadette, he stages an intervention and in a blink she goes missing. Bee's new goal is to find her best friend and mother.

I really enjoyed the quirkiness of this book and found myself laughing out loud at times. Perfect example:

"Here's the thing. Do you get seasick? People who don't get seasick have no idea what it's like. It's not just nausea. It's nausea plus losing the will to live."

I am no stranger to any kind of motion sickness; car, airplane, boat, roller coaster, bicycle crunches (!); so this analogy was not only relatable, but dead-on. However, near the end, I feared the plot was losing its way a little bit. And maybe it did, but the more I think about the resolution, I'm satisfied. Where'd You Go, Bernadette was cute and quirky with just enough sentiment.

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