Author: Maria Semple
Genre: Satirical Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Publishing Date: August 2012
Overall Rating: 4/5- Really Liked This Book
Dates Read: 4/19/2019- 4/20/2019
Book Review Provided By: Malachi Davis
Meet Bernadette- a middle-aged mother, wife, former architect, recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award, and owner of a crumbling, leaking, weed-growing former girls’ school in which she has decided to make her home. This peek into Bernadette’s life is just a small hint into the hilariously insane novel that is Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Unlike most novels this narrative unfolds not only through story telling but also through a series of letters, police reports, emergency room bills, school report cards, and most commonly, emails. As you have probably guessed from the title, Bernadette goes missing, and so you follow along with the story as told by her daughter, Bee, in the weeks leading up to her disappearance.
Because Bee is the daughter of Bernadette, a MacArthur Genius Award recipient, and Elgin, a Vice President of Microsoft, she is bound to be intelligent, and in our first meeting with Bee we find that she has received straight S’s in school. Yes, I said S’s. At Galer Street School, all students are in some way excellent (S meaning Surpasses Excellence, A meaning Achieves Excellence, and W meaning Working Toward Excellence), and that leaves Bernadette describing the school as “one of those liberal, grades-erode-self-esteem-type schools.” These high grades mean only one thing: Bee has earned her choice of reward for graduating eighth-grade, and of all things, she chooses a trip to Antarctica. Now I don’t know many fifteen-year-olds eager for a twenty-seven-day trip across the globe with their parents, but maybe I’m wrong?
With the trip decided, Bernadette has her “virtual assistant” from India, Manjula, start setting up the whole trip. With account numbers in hand and fishing vests ordered, the trip is officially underway. Dive into this hilariously absurd novel and grow to love characters you thought you would hate while attempting to answer the question, where’d you go, Bernadette?