Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
I don’t buy a lot of books full price. This isn’t because I don’t value them. It’s because as good as my intentions are I don’t tend to read books I buy for a very long time. So by the time I read it, it will be available in used book stores for a lot less. And I like supporting used book stores. But I also like supporting authors, so when it comes to small presses and debut authors, I try to buy books full-price. Otherwise, if I see a new book I’m interested in, I usually file it away for future used bookstore hunts.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is a book I saw in Hastings many times before I purchased it. I think it caught my eye because of the cover. It’s a pretty blue book with a fun, eccentric looking illustrated woman’s face on it. The synopsis was fun. But I wasn’t going to pay Hastings prices for it.
Until Hastings went out of business, that is. I have a lot of (mostly negative) thoughts about mega-media stores like Hastings. I did not feel bad at all taking advantage of their closing sale clearance prices.
(There won’t be spoilers in this review)
Where’d You Go, Bernadette was a fun read. It covers the bizarre life of artist-turned-mom, Bernadette, as told by her correspondence which has been compiled by her daughter, Bee, since she went missing. I feel like this book sheds a light on many things, including mental health. Bernadette is not a perfect character. She is a flawed, erratic human being. She creates drama wherever she goes. But she also is kind hearted and finds beauty in things that others don’t. She doesn’t make an issue out of things she feels are unimportant distractions from her family. For the most part, she eventually takes responsibility for her actions.
Parts of this book are narrated by Bernadette’s daughter, who is in the eighth grade. I love how even though Bee is presented as very smart, especially for her age, she’s still definitely a kid. She babbles like a kid. She is easily affected by emotional moments. She has the lapses in knowledge and experience that children have. Many books and movies with child geniuses forget that those characters are still children, and this book didn’t.
Overall, I loved this book. I love how it presents the events that unfold. I love how it shows a couple of “controversal” topics like religion and affairs by presenting how the characters feel about and handle those situations, but ultimately not passing judgement. Everything is very “this is what works for these individuals”.
I would definitely recommend Where’d You Go Bernadette. I read this in one day, because I was busy in waiting rooms that day and also because I didn’t want to put it down. My best friend also read this in one day, and she loved the characters (except one). We both loved how the ending is really the perfect ending for Bernadette’s personality.