Where’d You Go, Bernadette

by Maria Semple

I checked this baby out from the local library and it was – in a word – quirky! Good thing I love quirky!

The novel is a compilation of emails, articles and documents that Bee has collected to help her solve the disappearance of her mother, Bernadette. Both Bernadette and Bee are… shall we say eccentric? And absolutely adorable!

Bernadette is an architectural genius who does NOT fit in with the Seattle scene at all — all the “outdoorsy” folk, Microsoft employees, horrible drivers, over-involved parents and five-way intersections are driving her mad! Perhaps literally…. And the only one who understands her is her uber-smart daughter, Bee.

I’m not at all surprised I found this satire so charming – apparently Semple used to write for Arrested Development, one of the greatest shows ever, IMHO. And it’s the same kind of humor at work here. I dig it, but it’s not for everyone.

Note: If satire and biting wit is your thing, then Where’d You Go Bernadette might be for you. If so, I highly recommend looking into the audio version. The reader is divine and really brings this cast of quirky characters to life!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Where’d You Go Bernadette:

“Can you believe the weather?’…’Actually, I CAN believe the weather. What I can’t believe is that I’m actually having a conversation about the weather.”

“Those East Coast rich kids are a different breed, on a fast track to nowhere. Your friends in Seattle are downright Canadian in their niceness. None of you has a cell phone. The girls wear hoodies and big cotton underpants and walk around with tangled hair and smiling, adorned backpacks. Do you know how absolutely exotic it is that you haven’t been corrupted by fashion and pop culture? A month ago, I mentioned Ben Stiller, and do you remember how you responded? ‘Who’s that?’ I loved you all over again.”

“That’s right,’ she told the girls. ‘You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

“Maybe that’s what religion is, hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place.”

 

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