Author: Maria Semple
Genre: Contemporary Family
Release date: Paperback 17th December 2013
Target audience: Adult
Publisher: Orion Books
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a quirky novel. It’s a mystery. It’s a story of family, identity and there’s a little bit of social commentary thrown in there too.
This is Bee’s story. This is Bernadette’s story. A daughter and a mother. Bee goes to school at Galer Street but she’s just been awarded a place at the prestigious Choate boarding school. At the end of the year, she’ll be leaving home. But she’s not the only one. From the outset of the novel, it is clear that her mum, Bernadette, goes missing. The story goes any which way but the one you expect. It’s kooky. It’s melodramatic and it’s comical. I really enjoyed this book.
Bee is a gifted student. She has an inquiring mind. When she gets her perfect school report, she asks for what her parents always promised. “Anything she wants”. Bee is not your usual eighth grade student. Her wish is to go on a cruise to Antarctica. Of course, her parents have to say yes. But her mum isn’t exactly thrilled about the voyage ahead.
There is much humour in this book. Bernadette gets in many scrapes with the other Galer Street parents. The school is almost a setting for a sitcom with all these different characters making assumptions about each other. The story is told through letters, emails, blogs, and newspaper articles. This is interspersed with Bee sharing her part in the tale.
The best part of the novel is the unexpected truth about where Bernadette went, how and why. I loved that I didn’t see it coming. It’s not a predictable turn of events – there’s no secret affair. The truth is a little crazy and makes enjoyable reading.
I’m really looking forward to hearing what the other members of our staff book group thought of this book. It was a light, entertaining and endearing read. I certainly recommend Where’d You Go Bernadette if you like your books charming and out of the ordinary.
Source: Bought from Daunt Books, London.