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

by Maria Semple

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,2832052,795 (4)279
Member:knitwit2
Title:Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Authors:Maria Semple
Info:Thorndike Press (2012), Edition: Lrg, Hardcover, 487 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Antarctica, Seattle, microsoft, annoying parents, disappearance, architecture, outsourcing, India

Work details

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

  1. 20
    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)
  2. 20
    Microserfs by Douglas Coupland (cransell)
    cransell: Two fictional looks at working at Microsoft.
  3. 10
    The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson (cransell)
    cransell: Both quirky, humorous reads.
  4. 00
    This Book Will Save Your Life by A. M. Homes (lizchris)
    lizchris: About the madness of west coast America
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» See also 279 mentions

English (202)  Danish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (205)
Showing 1-5 of 202 (next | show all)
OK--this one is bizarre but I loved it.
Even though it started out being one of those "novels centered on letters and e-mails" that irritate, I enjoyed it.
8th grader Bee gets a good report card so Dad (Microsoft geek) and Mom (ex-architect) agree to take her to Antartica for a trip. The trip gets waylaid with the curious behavior of Mom and the neighbors and the school and well, she's just strange and when Dad decides that maybe it is time for a psych evaluation, she disappears.
Quite humorous (her diatribes on Seattle are hysterical!), didn't really figure out the religious aspects if they are meant to be slams or if it really is a person who is seeking and realizing that God makes people different ways, and of course the whole trip to Antartica. Cant' decide if it belongs in our library or not but it is fun. ( )
  carolvanbrocklin | Jul 27, 2014 |
If you are trying to decide whether or not you should read this quirky, emotional, humorous, touching, thoughtful, engaging, and even suspenseful epistolary novel, don't. Just read it. ( )
  Birdo82 | Jul 26, 2014 |
This is a tough one. While I was reading it, I was caught up in the story, no question. I didn't want to put it down, just so I could see what happened next. But after I was finished, I started thinking it over, and I realized that there really weren't any sympathetic characters I could root for, except possibly for Bee, the tween daughter.

Anyway, this is the story of a privileged family in Seattle consisting of "homemaker" Bernadette Fox; her Microsoft-guru husband, Elgie Branch, and brilliant eigth-grader Bee. They live in a former home for wayward Catholic girls that is crumbling around them, just like Bernadette's life. Bernadette has grudge-feuds with the other moms in Bee's school, drivers, landscapers, and lots of other people.

As the novel opens, we find out (from a note from Bee) that Bernadette has disappeared, 2 days before Christmas. Through letters, emails, report cards, hospital bills, blog posts, and other documents, the story is told of how this came about and what happened next. I'm a sucker for the epistolary format, so I was hooked.

My main problems with the book are:
1. Bernadette's behavior, which is due to mental illness, is played for laughs. She's "quirky," don't you know? Wrong.
2. A main character's religious conversion comes out of nowhere. It felt disrespectful. And this is coming from someone who LOVED Christopher Moore's Lamb, so it's not like I have a problem with poking fun at religion.
3. The husband is passive and disengaged in his relationships for most of the book. Bernadette has to physically disappear before he takes any action.

So although the writing is good, and the storytelling is excellent, I can't get behind this one. I can see how others would, though. ( )
  pfflyernc | Jul 25, 2014 |
Riotously unfunny "comic" novel about a genius Macarthur Fellow who disappears when her husband (also a genius!) attempts tp put her in the loonie bin. Two of the main narrators spend much of their time as sock puppets for lame rants about Seattle. After making plot holes big enough to sail the Queen Mary through, the book draws attention to them as if to say "I meant to do that." Semple telegraphs her punches like Rocky Balboa on Oxycontin (i.e. Rocky Balboa from "Rocky V). "Where'd You Go Bernadette" is doomed to be Sandra Bullock movie. ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
loved it - for about 2/3rds - ending seemed inconsistent...but enjoyable overall ( )
  Julia.Reeb | Jul 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 202 (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 editionsconfirmed
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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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."
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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.
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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.

(summary from another edition)

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