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Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria…
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Where'd You Go, Bernadette (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Maria Semple

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,5843191,472 (3.95)344
Member:paxelson
Title:Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Authors:Maria Semple
Info:Large Print Press (2013), Paperback, 487 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

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

Recently added byclp412, coffeelegs, jemiina, DanoM, Rena37, perhapstoopink, private library, mic_cee, mrs.ferguson
  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
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    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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» See also 344 mentions

English (315)  Danish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (318)
Showing 1-5 of 315 (next | show all)
Plowed through this quirky book about a quirky family I fell in love with. ( )
  vickiayala | Sep 22, 2016 |
I'm not sure what to say about this book to be honest. Semple's dive into Seattlites and the oh-so-standardly-wacky-ways of the Wacky Ones wasn't a horrible read. Her writing is well done and she definitely has a good phrase turn here and there throughout. But the increasingly fantastic turn of events made it more of a fun, quick read through rather than anything that stood out for me in particular. ( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
I know this is satire and that I'm not supposed to to like the characters, but I HATE these people. I can't read this right now. DNF
  CrystalDawn1217 | Sep 19, 2016 |
I devoured this book. Thought it was hilarious and incredibly right-on about life as a Microsoft employee, and about living in Seattle. Witty and fun - can't imagine why it's taken me this long to read it! ( )
  meredk | Aug 21, 2016 |
Beware: This book is utter chaos.

After a summer of little reading joy, October certainly seems to make up for it with some cracking reads. I'm not usually keen to pick bestsellers because they don't often live up to expectations, but this one worked for me.

Where's You Go, Bernadette? is the story of a family of endearing characters, all of whom seems to be persecuted for their individual eccentricities by various people from the confines of the particular Seattle community they live in. However, not all is well. There are strains and stresses that take their toll and lead up to events which cause each of the characters to examine their lives and their relationship with their surroundings. At the heart of the story is the bond between Bernadette and her daughter, Bee:

"I hit the pause button.‘How do you even know this?’ I demanded.
‘Abbey Road?’ Mom shrugged. ‘I don’t know, you just know it.’
She unpaused the CD. When ‘Here Comes the Sun’ started, what happened? No, the sun didn’t come out, but Mom opened up like the sun breaking through the clouds.
You know how in the first few notes of that song, there’s something about George’s guitar that’s just so hopeful? It was like when Mom sang, she was full of hope, too. She even got the irregular clapping right during the guitar solo.
When the song was over, she paused it.
‘Oh, Bee,’ she said. ‘This song reminds me of you.’
She had tears in her eyes.
‘Mom!’
This is why I didn’t want her to come to the first- grade elephant dance. Because the most random things get her way too full of love.
‘I need you to know how hard it is for me sometimes.’ Mom had her hand on mine.
‘What’s hard?’
‘The banality of life,’ she said."


As mentioned, the writing is chaotic - the story is told from different POVs and through different snippets of media: email, reports, interviews as well as straight narrative. It is littered with cultural cynicism, witty comedy, slapstick, and thinly veiled contempt for the exaltation of the mundane.

And why not? When boredom and depression are issues to be faced, I, too, like to challenge the routine:

"My heart started racing, not the bad kind of heart racing, like, I’m going to die. But the good kind of heart racing, like, Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I’m about to kick the shit out of life." ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 315 (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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For Poppy Meyer
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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."
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.

(summary from another edition)

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