According to Goodreads, I have picked up 46 books since the beginning of the year. However, none of them gripped me the way Where Did You Go Bernadette? did. The second fiction novel written by former Arrested Development writer Maria Semple, tells the events leading up to Bernadette Fox’s disappearance through the eyes and documents collected by her daughter Bee. It’s a really extraordinary story that will leave you breathless until the very end. Breathless from laughing so hard, that is.
Aside from the plentiful humor, Where’d You Go Bernadette? stuck with me for this long because it was so unique. Though the story has a lot of interesting twists and turns, the most distinct aspect was the format. At least 70% of the book is told through written documents, e-mail conversations, and letters. The way Semple implemented so much detail in these materials and wove them into the story so exquisitely was just plain impressive. In fact, I found myself more interested in what was in the legal and email correspondence than Bee’s sections of prose.
Another aspect that I found intriguing was the way the main characters interacted with the setting. The book takes place in Seattle, WA, in a neighborhood that aligns with the Microsoft office. Bee’s father Elgin plays the role of the stereotypical corporate head, which significantly impacts the plot in many ways. In the beginning, Elgin is a selfish corporate guru, who focused a lot of his time on his career. Once Bernadette’s depression begins to spiral out of control, Elgin’s egotistical behavior wanes and he works with Bee to put his family back together. Elgin’s job at Microsoft and the Seattle culture are the main factors that drive these aspects of the plot and without them, the story and it’s symbolism may not have come off as realistic as it did.
If I could describe Where’d You Go Bernadette? in four words, they would be “fun roller coaster ride.” This book will take you on a crazy adventure that will leave you wanting more. Not only that, there’s many life lessons in here about money, family, and the pursuit of happiness. I highly recommend this book for readers of any age looking for a really entertaining, heartwarming story.
As the Managing Editor, Lauren Stern is responsible for curating Pop-Break.com’s content. This includes managing the editorial staff, coordinating the content calendar, and assigning publishing dates and deadlines. She graduated Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism and Philosophy. She spends her free time searching for the best gluten-free food in the Tri-State area, playing with her dogs, and reading an insane amount of books. She tweets constantly about pop culture and social issues and hopes you follow her musings @laurenpstern.