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)
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)
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)
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."
“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.
"Let's say you get a present and open it and it's a fabulous diamond necklace. Initially, you're delirious with happiness, jumping up and down, you're so excited. The next day, the necklace still makes you happy, but less so. After a year, you see the necklace, and you think, Oh, that old thing. It's the same for negative emotions. Let's say you get a crack in your windshield and you're really upset. Oh no, my windshield, it's ruined, I can hardly see out of it, this is a tragedy! But you don't have enough money to fix it, so you drive with it. In a month, someone asks you what happened to your windshield, and you say, What do you mean? Because your brain has discounted it."
I saw hundreds of them, cathedrals of ice, rubbed like salt licks; shipwrecks, polished from wear like marble steps at the Vatican; Lincoln Centers capsized and pockmarked; airplane hangars carved by Louise Nevelson; thirty-story buildings, impossibly arched like out of a world's fair; white, yes, but blue, too, every blue on the color wheel, deep like a navy blazer, incandescent like a neon sign, royal like a Frenchman's shirt, power like Peter Rabbit's cloth coat, these icy monsters roaming the forbidden black. There was something unspeakably noble about their age, their scale, their lack of consciousness, their right to exist. Every single iceberg filled me with feelings of sadness and wonder.
The South Pole is on a shifting ice sheet. Every year they have to relocate the official Pole marker because it can move one hundred feet!
I had to go. If for no other reason than to be able to put my hand on the South Pole marker and declare that the world literally revolved around me.
The sky in Seattle is so low, it felt like God had lowered a silk parachute over us.
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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▾LibraryThing members' 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.
Maria Semple is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.
The format is non-traditional. Bernadette's daughter, Bee, is the narrator, but most of the tale is told through emails, memos, and other forms of documentation. Bee's family is well off, and she attends private school - - and I'm not quite sure if you have to have a child in private school to appreciate truly how funny this book is . . .but it didn't hurt. It really does skewer the whole culture of wealth and the atmosphere that surrounds these schools to some degree. Definitely one of the funnier novels I've read.
The book has tremendous momentum. Until the end. I don't really want to say much about the plot because part of the beauty of the book is the way it is slowly revealed . . .but unfortunately, I found that as the book progressed, you had to really suspend disbelief more and more and more . . .and the final couple of chapters just kinda were a bit over the top and not nearly as compelling as the lead up.
It's one of those books that I REALLY enjoyed reading while I was reading it, but where I probably won't be recommending it left and right.
p.s. for those of you who like audio books, I don't think this would translate well at all to that format. ( )