"Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple Review
Bernadette Fox is what you may call an eccentric with slight agoraphobia. To most people she's flighty, a bit slow, and basically an embarrassment to society. To Bee Fox, Bernadette's 15 year-old daughter, she's a best friend and the best mom. Bee is near genius and once she scores straight A's on her report card, she chooses her prize: a family trip to Antarctica. But then her mother disappears just before the family is set to leave and Bee is determined to find out exactly what happened. To find the truth Bee compiles e-mails and receipts, invoices, and anything she can find that relates to why and how her mother disappeared. The results are a thrilling and compelling read.
"Semple's affecting characters, not-neccessarily-nice humor, and surprising plot twists make this novel an enchanting ride." - Carolyn Kellog, Los Angeles Times
I had been meaning to read this book for a year, ever since it was published and immediately received rave reviews. Finally, I picked it up after church one Sunday and I read it all the way through, that day. It was enthralling. Simply enthralling. Everything from the characters to the style to the constant plots twists kept me entertained 100% of the time. I truly wish the novel had never ended.
This is not written like your ordinary run-of-the-mill novel, this novel is much more intriguing. The story is stitched together through various e-mails, faxes, handwritten letters, etc. with bits of "normal" narrative woven in between to fill in the gaps. This style allows you, as the reader, to work and solve the disappearance of Bernadette alongside Bee. The unique style also allows for a quick and easy read.
"This is why you must love life: one day you're offering up your social security number to the Russian Mafia; two weeks later you're using the word 'calve' as a verb." - Bernadette to Bee
I also found the plot and characters to be totally unique, which was totally refreshing as the last book I read was not so unique. The twists and turns that I took on that journey alongside Bee were so exciting and absolutely thrilling. And the characters...oh my heavens. Each and every character is crafter so creatively, even down to the most minute detail. And each character seemed to have at least one hidden secret that kept the story interesting. If I ran into a real-life version of Bernadette, Bee, or even Elgie (Bernadette's husband and Bee's dad) I would be floored by their individual personalities and honestly, I would think they were crazy and I'd cross to the other side of the sidewalk. But in the novel, Semple writes each character so well that you have to love them, or at least feel for them, for at least one part of the story. The characters also brought much needed comedic relief from the more serious situations that literally had me laughing out loud.
"Here's what surprised me about penguins: their chests aren't pure white but have patches of peach and green, which is partially digested krill and algae vomit, which splatters on them when they feed their chicks." - Bee
Although this would be a wonderful summer read, I urge you not to wait that long. Go pick this novel up right now, and I mean now. On your next day off, shut off your phone, make a large pot of tea, and cozy up with this wonderful adventures. What are you doing still reading this blog post?? Go buy the book!