CBR-V Review #2: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Genre: Fiction/comedy

Why I Read It: I’ll admit it–I didn’t know anything about this book, but I wanted to read it because I thought the cover was so cute. My expectations were extremely low, because I had no idea what it was about, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

My Rating: 4.5/5

My Review: Bee is the daughter of the titular Bernadette. She’s a smart, fairly normal pre-teen with a heart condition and dreams of attending boarding school on the East Coast. Her mother can only be described as wacky–she’s essentially agoraphobic, she’s a drama queen, she hates Seattle (where they live) with a passion, and her favorite past-time is antagonizing the other mothers at Bee’s school. All we know, at the beginning of the book, is that Bernadette has disappeared. The novel is Bee’s recreation of events, via emails, letters, and other carefully gathered documents, in an attempt to discover what happened to her beloved mother.

This book was just plain fun. It’s not deep or intense–it’s just light and witty and funny. I plowed through it and enjoyed every second of it. Semple is a great writer, with a wicked sense of humor and a great ability to craft quirky yet realistic characters. According to her bio, she’s written for shows like Arrested Development, which makes a ton of sense as this book was very tonally similar to the show. If you liked AD, you’ll definitely like this! She satirizes upper-class yuppie culture–the organic-eating, Prius-driving, helicopter-parenting population that continues to grow in liberal cities like Seattle–so brilliantly. It’s never mean-spirited, though–just fun. Bee is a sweet and smart narrator, playing the straight-man role well. She is the perfect representation of the audience, simply observing the madness unfold around her with objective eyes.

Should You Read It? Definitely. This book was great. It’s funny and completely enjoyable and doesn’t require a ton of mental energy–this would be a great summer beach read (or a vacation read in general).  

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