About this Book
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple
The story follows the main character, Bee Branch, as she pieces together emails, letters and other documents to try to find her mother, Bernadette Fox, who has gone missing. Bee Branch is the daughter of an executive at Microsoft and her mother is a former award-winning architect. Although her mother seems strange and crazy to the other private school mothers and her father's employees, Bee knows that her mother has always been there for her, and that Bernadette simply walks to the beat of her own drum.
When Bernadette escapes in the middle of her intervention, nobody knows what happened to Bernadette or where she went. Word comes from the credit card company that Bernadette made charges aboard the ship the family was supposed to take for their trip to Antarctica. After Bee doesn't thrive while away at boarding school, Elgin agrees to use their tickets to Antarctica. Elgin sees it as a way for Bee to have closure about her mom. Bee sees it as a way to act as an amateur detective to find her mom.
"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)
"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)
"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)
"[A] cracklingly smart family dramedy.... [I was] stunned and transported by this extraordinarily powerful and intelligent novel." (Lev Grossman, Time)
"WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE is a pure pleasure.... Semple's light touch and glittering prose keep things aloft." (Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe)
"If Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl represented the dark heart of the summer literature, Maria Semple's...BERNADETTE embodies the sunnier, funnier side.... Semple has a flair for satire and screwball jinks, and she has produced a great gift to avid readers: a book that you never want to finish reading." (Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald)
"Stands to become a cult favorite.... Like Jane Austen-who set the gold standard for social satire-Semple's most ridiculous characters are convinced that they're the normal ones, and it's wonderful fun to watch as they behave abominably, believing themselves blameless.... Semple has a keen ear for the nuances of different voices, and it's a joy to get to know these people.... Bernadette is...marvelous. Her rants read like the best comedy routines.... It's the rare book that actually deserves the term "laugh-out-loud funny," but I found myself reading passages from almost every page to anyone who would listen, even as I could barely articulate the words through my own laughter." (Malena Watrous, San Francisco Chronicle)