Sunday, October 28, 2012

Where'd You Go Bernadette, Maria Semple

Galer Street School is a place where compassion, academics, and global connectitude join together to create civic-minded citizens of a sustainable and diverse planet. 

This is a light-hearted, yet serious novel set in Seattle. It's very funny; even in the first sentence, it accurately portrays the over-formal lingo of private schools (though I go to one myself) with a word that doesn't exist: connectitude. "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 really enjoyed this one and the way that it lightly ribbed Seattle. Actually, more than light humor. But it was amusing, especially with all the talk about "community" that is so Washingtonian. And Bernadette is constantly remembering that she lives next to Idaho, and ranting against the idiocies of the city. The parts where Bernadette is emailing Manjula, her virtual Indian assistant, are pretty funny too. (By the way, there is a twist with the Manjula.)  Bernadette pours out all of her concerns, and Manjula responds in a few crisp, formal, business-like sentences. There were also a lot of Seattle references that I got because I spend a lot of time there.

Where'd You Go Bernadette is an epistolary novel; it is composed of emails, notices, and excerpts from Bee and Bernadette's diaries, for the most part. I think that was an effective way to tell this story as it allows you to get into the minds of all of the characters. Where'd You Go Bernadette was a humorous and entertaining novel, though the beginning was much better than the end.

Read Where'd You Go Bernadette:
  • if you like Maria Semple
  • if you like books about Seattle/mocking Seattle
  • if you like books set in Washington State
  • if you like zany fiction
326 pages.  
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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