Fiction · Sadie J

Where’d You Go, Bernadette | by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go Bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2012, 324 pages)

When Bee Fox’s parents promised her that she could have whatever she wanted if she received all A’s on her report card, Bee chose a family trip to Antarctica. Bernadette, Bee’s mother, agrees to the trip but for years has been retreating from interactions outside her home. The latest example is hiring an online assistant working out of India to interact with people for her, such as ordering dinner for the Fox family. As the trip approaches, Bernadette starts to unwind until she finally disappears with no trace. Bee decides to put together a book of assorted documents and emails to try and find her mother.

I thought this was a pretty fun read. It is mostly reading through all the documents and emails that Bee has received in order to find her mother with some narrative fill from Bee when needed. I liked that there were email exchanges from multiple characters so that while the reader wasn’t present for the actual event, they got varying accounts of what happened and could piece together the truth. I also enjoyed that all the characters were obviously flawed but they also acknowledged their flaws and had other traits that made them interesting. It was a wacky story but never seemed forced to be that way.


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