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Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel Hardcover – December 21, 2012
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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"Comedy heaven.... This divinely funny, many-faceted novel...leaves convention behind. Instead, it plays to Ms. Semple's strengths as someone who can practice ventriloquism in many voices, skip over the mundane and utterly refute the notion that mixed-media fiction is bloggy, slack or lazy.... The tightly constructed WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE is written in many formats-e-mails, letters, F.B.I. documents, correspondence with a psychiatrist and even an emergency-room bill for a run-in between Bernadette and Audrey. Yet these pieces are strung together so wittily that Ms. Semple's storytelling is always front and center, in sharp focus. You could stop and pay attention to how apt each new format is, how rarely she repeats herself and how imaginatively she unveils every bit of information. But you would have to stop laughing first." (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)
"You don't have to know Seattle to get Maria Semple's broadly satirical novel.... Underlying the nontraditional narrative are insights into the cost of thwarted creativity and the power of mother-daughter bonds, although a reader may be having too much fun to notice." (O, The Oprah Magazine)
"Delightfully droll.... Semple...cuts a wry slice of a life-one that's populated by private school helicopter parents, obsessively eco-conscious neighbors, and green-juice swilling, TED-talking husbands-and one that's sharp enough to make us feel slightly relieved about not having to live anywhere quite so bucolic." (Megan O'Grady, Vogue)
"The characters in WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE may be in real emotional pain, but Semple has the wit and perspective and imagination to make their story hilarious. I tore through this book with heedless pleasure." (Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom)
"There's a lot to like in Semple's charming novel, including the vivacious humor and the lesson that when creative forces like Bernadette stop creating, they become 'a menace to society.' Even more appealing is the mutually adoring mother-daughter relationship at its warm heart." (Heller McAlpin, NPR)
"In her second novel...Semple pieces together a modern-day comic caper full of heart and ingenuity....a compelling composite of a woman's life-and the way she's viewed by the many people who share it. As expected from a writer who has written episodes of Arrested Development, the nuances of mundane interactions are brilliantly captured, and the overarching mystery deepens with each page, until the thoroughly satisfying dénouement." (Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review))
"A comedic delight..." (Family Circle)
"Agoraphobia and Antarctica are among the elements in Maria Semple's terrific novel." (Parade)
"Semple's affecting characters, not-necessarily-nice humor and surprising plot twists make this novel an enchanting ride." (Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times)
"...Warm, dark, sad, funny-and a little bit screwball.... This is an inventive and very funny novel that gets bonus points for transcending form." (Susan Coll, The Washington Post)
About the Author
Maria Semple's first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from
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They are planning on taking a trip to Antarctica over Christmas break, a reward for Bee's perfect report card. But things start going awry. And then Bernadette disappears...
This is a strange story told in an unique way. It's told by Bee with the help of emails, letters from school personnel, police reports, medical reports, invoices, etc. This book is satirical; certainly not a book anchored in "everyday life" realism. In this regard, it reminds me a bit of Rachael Joyce's "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye".
"Where'd You Go, Bernadette" isn't for everyone. Of course you can say that about every book ever published, but that goes double here. I would've given up on it if not for a reading buddy who pushed me to stick it out. The characters are not likable in the beginning (or understandable), especially Bernadette. But once I got through the first quarter, I was invested in the story. And when I reached the last page, I realized wisps of Bee, Bernadette, and Elgin have been written in my memory bank with a permanent marker. They'll fade, but never completely leave.
Can't possibly give this less than 4 stars.
The book is by turns hilarious and touching. It skewers helicopter parents, high tech, and Seattle. It also focuses on mother-daughter relationships, family dynamics, and creativity. The main characters, including Elgin the father and husband, are unforgettable. This is a book that makes you feel good!
However the quarrelsome/crazy women finds an iceberg and is rendered sane and functioning. The 15 year old daughter matures in under an hour and all is right with the world. The husband is sort of left out of the game plan.
A quick read and flows well.
Most recent customer reviews
At first I wasn't sure I liked the characters, and I wondered if the plot and story were going to hold together in cohesive way, but it was well-paced and...Read more