where’d you go, bernadette | maria semple


with finals and graduation coming up, ive actually had more time to read and will be posting two reviews this time. the first book i finished was where’d you go, bernadette? by maria semple. apparently the author lives in my hometown of seattle, so it was really interesting seeing bits of it speckled throughout the plot.

the book is about little bee graduating from junior high with straight As and her parents’ promise that they’ll do or take her wherever she wants as a result. the story follows her request to go to anarctica and her family’s intertwining struggles between her mom and reality.

overall, it was a quick and good read. the narrative jumps around a lot, indicative of the what the main character is going through. more interestingly enough, the plot is told from various perspectives, from side characters to her daughter and husband. i think that was the best part about the book. telling it from so many perspectives really made the book dynamic and kept me engaged. it’s a bit of a learning curve remembering who’s who and whatnot, but i think it worked out brilliantly in the end.

the plot twist about 3/4 into the book was also unexpected, as plot twists are. and it kind of makes you sympathize with with bernadette. additionally, it really plays into how the story is told from different perspectives. it exacerbates what happens among gossiping circles, things get lost in translation, and bernadette happens to get the most blamed due to the disjointed communication between everyone. this isn’t to undermine who she is as a character and the mental issues she’s alluded to suffer from.

*spoilers ahead

the only gripe i have with this book is about 1/2-3/4 of the way into the book, there’s a scene with bee and her finding comfort in religion. it’s a pretty explicit scene, not in terms of “adult” explicit, just uncomfortable explicit. up until that point it seemed like religion was something bee had just scratched the surface of because of her friend kennedy. however, in that instance it felt like an attempt to convert me, the reader, into whatever bee was falling into. after that point, her interest in religion was never really touched on again. im fine with hints of religion in the plot, but when it’s put on blast suddenly, and not really mentioned again, it’s a uncomfortable. overall, it just felt unresolved.

if you want a quick, yet entertaining and quirky read, i’d definitely suggest this. i read this in conjunction with malcolm gladwell’s the tipping point so expect that this weekend as well.

pssst – with the bombardment of books turned into movies phenomena, i was curious as to whether or not where’d you go, bernadette? had been snatched. looks like it has, with bernadette and audrey having already been cast. i think it’s fitting, i’m interested to see who else will be cast as who. the movie starts filming this summer and it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect it by next year. if you end up reading and liking the book, keep your eyes peeled for that.


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