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Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2012)

by Maria Semple

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,1414901,236 (3.91)465
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.… (more)
Recently added byprivate library, Melchris73, jessreib, janinesherman, hailey-lorraine
  1. 51
    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. 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)
  4. 10
    This Book Will Save Your Life by A. M. Homes (lizchris)
    lizchris: About the madness of west coast America
  5. 10
    Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (kathleen.morrow)
    kathleen.morrow: Similar sharp, witty style of writing
  6. 00
    Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (sturlington)
  7. 00
    Class Mom by Laurie Gelman (drm19)
    drm19: Both are witty and irreverent explorations of competitive motherhood that propel the story forward with emails and narrative.
  8. 11
    The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Alliebadger)
    Alliebadger: Each of these are smart, fast reads that make you read between the lines to find the humor. Great books!
  9. 00
    Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant (JenMDB)
  10. 00
    Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (lycomayflower)
  11. 00
    Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell (kiwiflowa)
  12. 11
    The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson (cransell)
    cransell: Both quirky, humorous reads.
  13. 01
    Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (kqueue)
    kqueue: Both have a madcap feel where one situation leads to another and spirals out of control.
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» See also 465 mentions

English (485)  Danish (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (488)
Showing 1-5 of 485 (next | show all)
I listened to this one on Audible and really enjoyed it. Great cast of characters, interesting and unique plot, and now I suddenly find myself wanting to take a trip to Antarctica. While some of the events are a little far-fetched, it was engrossing enough that I can overlook them. It's been a while since I've read a good chick-lit story, and if you're a fan of the genre I think you'll like this. And, if you enjoy listening to books, I thought the narrator did a great job developing unique and distinct voices for the different characters. Overall, an enjoyable read. Or, in this case, listen. ( )
  stacyastokes | Sep 7, 2021 |
Finally, I found one more amazing book!

The book doesn't have the usual style when the author tells us about the events, it consists of different documents sorted chronologically. At first, it was a little bit confusing, but later I got used to it and really enjoyed it. I understood that it was the perfect decision to write this book in such a way. It helps us to see the characters more deeply and understand the reasons for their acts better.

The first half of the book has A LOT of funny moments. Although Bernadette seemed a bit strange to me, I liked her nevertheless. Another case was her husband. I stopped liking him as soon as I started reading about his actions.

This book has many interesting situations that can be a great topic for discussion. I think it's perfect for a book club. To sum up, it's a novel about how a failure may change the whole life, and how support from the native people can empower a person to keep going. ( )
  Diana_Hryniuk | Aug 28, 2021 |
Not much to say right now. Will be discussing with the Library bookgroup. I need tohear some feed back first ( )
  NJanow | Aug 16, 2021 |
Hit the spot perfectly. Loved the quirky main character and the author's writing style. Really fired me up to read again. ( )
  eslee | Aug 11, 2021 |
4.5 stars. Really, they couldn't have lived in that moldy place for so many years. And Kennedy's mom couldn't have been a volunteer parent at their school. That aside it was quite a tear from start to finish. And there was a real ending, not just older and wiser!
Bernadette's rants are wonderful. So much inverted love/hate. Create or be a maniac, words to live by. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 485 (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
Semple, Mariaprimary 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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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
Our house is old. All day and night it cracks and groans, like it's trying to get comfortable but can't
Chihulys are the pigeons of Seattle. They're everywhere, and even if they don't get in your way, you can't help but build up a kind of antipathy toward them.
Like sick animals, everyone else had retreated into their warrens of misery.
Right before it shut, I caught a glimpse of the poor Japanese people. Nobody had moved. Some hands were frozen in midair, in the middle of doing a fold. It looked like a wax museum diorama of an origami presentation.
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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 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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Maria Semple is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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