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Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
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Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2012)

by Maria Semple

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,9383411,303 (3.95)380
  1. 20
    Microserfs by Douglas Coupland (cransell)
    cransell: Two fictional looks at working at Microsoft.
  2. 20
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Though Sweetness is more of a traditional mystery, it shares with Where'd You Go, Bernadette an endearing, precocious, and entertaining young narrator who pieces together clues from the adult world to solve a mystery. Character interactions are delightfully, humorously depicted.… (more)
  3. 31
    Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (LBV123)
    LBV123: Rifka Brunt's novel similarly traces a complicated family history and the story of a complicated mother with artistic tendencies, and features an interesting and complicated teenaged narrator. While not as openly chasing the laughs as Semple's novel, Tell the Wolves is nonetheless humorous in its depiction of family politics--and deeply touching as it deals with both love and loss.… (more)
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    cransell: Both quirky, humorous reads.
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    Alliebadger: Each of these are smart, fast reads that make you read between the lines to find the humor. Great books!
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» See also 380 mentions

English (337)  Danish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All (340)
Showing 1-5 of 337 (next | show all)
Best possible beach read - funniest book I've read in years ( )
  Overgaard | Jul 14, 2017 |
Took me a while to get into this. But well worth persevering and deserving of all the hype surrounding it. Bernadette is a fantastic character who had me cringing, laughing and close to tears. Great story with plenty of twists and turns but for me it was the brilliantly drawn characters that made this a brilliant read. ( )
  boobellina | Jul 12, 2017 |
Took me a while to get into this. But well worth persevering and deserving of all the hype surrounding it. Bernadette is a fantastic character who had me cringing, laughing and close to tears. Great story with plenty of twists and turns but for me it was the brilliantly drawn characters that made this a brilliant read. ( )
  boobellina | Jul 12, 2017 |
I almost didn't read this book for two reasons: 1) A condescending guy on the Internet whom I generally disagree with [EDIT: Not Jonathan Franzen; granted, he's a condescending guy, but he's not on the Internet much, and I agree with him about as often as I disagree with him] thought it was the best thing ever; and 2) Its cover is AWFUL. It makes it look like some kind of wacky chick-lit caper about shopping for sunglasses or some such nonsense. I thought the days of publishers slapping a chick-lit cover on anything written by a woman were gone, but clearly I was mistaken.

But I was at the library yesterday with my nine-year-old picking up a book he'd requested, and he wanted to sit and read that book RIGHT THEN, so I pulled this one off the nearest shelf, figuring I'd read it for 10 minutes until he was ready to go. Instead, I ended up checking it out and reading it obsessively into the night and early this morning.

There are plenty of reviews to tell you what it's about, so I'll just say: Don't pick it up expecting chick lit. That's not what this is, despite the cover. It's smart and funny (although readers from Seattle might feel otherwise), and I found it refreshingly unpredictable, but maybe I'm just not very good at predicting plots. ( )
  VintageReader | Jul 9, 2017 |
From my Cannonball Read V Review ...

This book is popular among Cannonballers, and I get why. It's got a different structure, a bit of whimsy and focuses much of its hatred on my grungy / crunchy little hometown of Seattle. In fact, the only thing that made me interested in reading the book was the tie to Seattle. However, I think people who have either never visited the Pacific Northwest or have no animosity towards it will still enjoy the book.

The book is told through some absurd narrative devices - the perspective of a middle school child, emails between neighbors and desperate private school marketers, investigators, magazine articles - but remains fairly coherent throughout. The main narrator is Bernadette's daughter, although we do get to view things from Bernadette's perspective as she communicates with her personal assistant (who is based in India - perhaps she got the idea from A.J. Jacobs's book?). Bernadette going missing, while ostensible the focus of the book, only happens about 2/3 of the way through, which allows us to build up the characters and learn a bit more about them.

Without giving too much away, there is a whole lot of absurdity / unavailability throughout the book. From a super-last-minute trip to Antarctica to a bit of a deus ex machina ending, I definitely had to suspend disbelief numerous times. However, the details about Seattle were pretty spot on, so at least that wasn't distracting to me.

I read this book over the course of two red-eye flights to Europe for my honeymoon. I was tired and not really interested in anything that taxed my brain too intensely. This book definitely fit the bill. Call it a beach read, or a plane read, or whatever. But I think it's worth adding to you 'when I need to turn off my brain but still feel like I'm using it' list.
( )
  ASKelmore | Jul 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 337 (next | show all)
The book stumbles a bit in the middle as it transitions from a scathing anti-Seattle manifesto into a family drama with comic undertones. But once the gears have finished their grinding and the shuddering subsides, Semple eases into her strongest work yet, allowing her characters to change in a way that suits the story, and not just shooting for an easy punch line or a sharply worded barb. In the end, with its big heart set on acceptance, Bernadette feels something like coming home.
added by Nickelini | editthe Stranger, Paul Constant (Aug 12, 2012)
 
The tightly constructed “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is written in many formats — e-mails, letters, F.B.I. documents, correspondence with a psychiatrist and even an emergency-room bill for a run-in between Bernadette and Audrey. Yet these pieces are strung together so wittily that Ms. Semple’s storytelling is always front and center, in sharp focus. You could stop and pay attention to how apt each new format is, how rarely she repeats herself and how imaginatively she unveils every bit of information. But you would have to stop laughing first.
added by ozzer | editNY Times, Janet Maslin (Aug 6, 2012)
 
Semple is a TV comedy writer, and the pleasures of Where'd You Go, Bernadette are the pleasures of the best American TV: plot, wit and heart. (There are places where Semple really wants to be writing dialogue, and stretches the epistolary conceit of the novel to suit.) It's rather refreshing to find a female misunderstood genius at the heart of a book, and a mother-daughter relationship characterised by unadulterated mutual affection. If Bernadette is a monster of ego, Semple suggests, so are most people, when they're being honest. In her spiky but essentially feelgood universe, failure and self-exposure open up a rich seam of comedy, but shame can always be vanquished by love
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maria Sempleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Broeder, LindaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chichereau, CarineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Vicq, Fearn CutlerDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayes, KeithCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leiva Morales, ÁngelesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilhoite, KathleenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Xie, JingwenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Poppy Meyer
First words
Monday, November 15: 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.
The first annoying thing is when I ask Dad what he thinks happened to Mom, he always says, "What's most important is for you to understand it's not your fault."
Quotations
“Shh! She said. The waiter. He's about to take their order. She leaned back and to her left, closer,closer,closer,her body like a giraffe's neck, until her chair shot out from under her and she landed on the floor. The whole restaurant turned to look. I jumped up to help. She stood up, righted the chair, and started in again. Did you see the tattoo one of them has on the inside of his arm? It looked like a roll of tape.

I took a gulp of margarita and settled into my fallback option, which was to wait her out.

Know what one of the guys at the drive-through Starbucks has on his forearm? Bernadette said. A paper clip! It used to be so daring to get a tattoo. And now people are tattooing office supplies on their bodies. You know what I say? Of course this was rhetorical. I say, dare not to get a tattoo. She turned around again, and gasped. Oh My God. It's not just any roll of tape. It's literally Scotch tape, with the green-and-black plaid. This is too hilarious. If you're going to tattoo tape on your arm, at least make it a generic old-fashioned tape dispenser! What do you think happened? Did the Staples catalogue get delivered to the tattoo parlor that day?” 
― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
When Bee aces her report card she claims her reward, which is a trip to Antarctica, but her mother, Bernadette, disappears due to her intensifying allergy to Seattle and people in general, which has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands and Bee uses emails, invoices, school memos, private correspondence, and other evidence to try and understand why her mother has left.
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When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled, and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.

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