Book Nook: “Where’d you go Bernadette” is quirky and thought-provoking - Livenup - Explorer

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Book Nook: “Where’d you go Bernadette” is quirky and thought-provoking

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The book, "Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple.

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“Where’d You Go Bernadette” is not your average book… and it likes it that way. Through a series of emails, documents and a narrative told from the point-of-view of a 14-year-old named Bee, we see the story of Bernadette Fox unfold. 

Formerly an architect, Bernadette suffered a professional blow in L.A. and she and her husband ran away to Seattle, had a child (Bee, the aforementioned 14-year-old) and for years she and her family have lived above the daughter’s school while Bernadette has slowly… unraveled.

But Bee wants to go to a boarding school and for graduation she has been promised a trip anywhere she wants. She chooses Antarctica. Bernadette, who is agoraphobic (amongst other things) is determined to make it happen. What follows is a toppling domino series of events involving Bernadette’s struggle with her fellow school moms, her crumbling marriage and even the Russian mafia.  Ultimately, when everything comes to a head, Bernadette flees.

But where has she gone? And is she dead or alive? The answer takes Bee and her father to Antarctica alone where the most unexpected series of events happens.

I really liked this book. I expected it to be funny, as the author is a former writer on one of my favorite dysfunctional family programs, Arrested Development. But this book, while utterly quirky, isn’t exactly funny. Bernadette’s spiral out of control and all the results of it, made my own anxiety rise with every word I read. And despite that, I was driven deeper and deeper into the story. 

Bernadette is a creative woman who has stopped creating. By doing that she has been taken to a dangerous edge. Watching her walk that edge was a wonderful, terrible, fascinating ride. One I would highly recommend and rate 4 stars out of 5.

(Editor’s Note: Jesse Petersen is a local author. She can be reached at jessepet@passionatepen.com.)

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The book, "Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple.

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